Honda yesterday laid out its future green motoring technology strategy for the world's media with announcements and demonstrations in Washington DC. The only piece of mainstream kit in the near future will be a new hybrid car, to go on sale in the USA within two years priced below the current Honda Civic hybrid variant, which …
Unique = Ugly
By comparison, the Prius is the evil stepsister, and the Civic Hybrid is Cinderella. Owning a civic hybrid, (it's the old lady's car, I drive a G35), I have to say, I chose the Civic because of it's un-fugly styling. Sad thing is, honda is likely exactly right when they say that the people who want to be perceived as green likely want something that looks different than anything else out there, be it ugly or not. On a side note, the tax credit granted for the purchase of a Hybrid vehicle is something akin to a tax break for the rich, but only the rich who support a liberal candidate. Incredulous.
Fuel cell cars emit greenhouse gases, it is just that they are from the electricity generating plant rather than from the car itself! The equation "hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen become waste water and electric power" should be prefixed with "fossil fuels become pollution and hydrogen, then..."
Clearly electricity and hydrogen can be produced in many ways, but right now these vehicles are as bad as the rest. The "green motorist" just doesn't exist.
Fuel Cell cars don't emit greenhouse gases
The previous posters comments about Fuel Cells not being green isn't entirely accurate.
If someone creates the necessary hydrogen through solar/wind power, it's entirely green.
This is a step towards having ONE central point to clean up emissions rather than hundreds of millions of polluting units. Much easier to fix the problem in 'one' location than in millions of locations.
Prius vs Civic
I don't think the Prius's success over the Civic Hybrid is due soley to its styling. The article fails to mention the major engineering differences between the vehicles.
Toyota hybrids' primary motor is the electric, with the gas engine used to recharge the batteries or provide additional oomph when necessary. Honda's hybrids, on the other hand, use the gas engine primarily, with the electric used to provide quick start (allowing the gas engine to shut off at lights) or extra oomph.
Also, as mentioned, the Civic hybrid is essentially a Civic with the hybrid technology, whereas the Prius has been Toyota's showcase for new ideas, with things like more flexible cargo arrangements, Bluetooth support, and navigational tools designed in rather than tacked on as an afterthought.
The Civic hybrid is a production vehicle with one concept added; the Prius is a concept vehicle in mass production.
Pretty on the outside
The FCX concept (http://world.honda.com/FuelCell/) is a pretty good looking car. Burning fossil fuels and smashing heavy atoms together in centralized locations is ultimately better for the environment than having lots and lots of small, self-transporting power generators. Far better than fossil-electric hybrids, but not better enough. Besides, they share end-of-life issues, like how do you scrap an FCX or a Prius? (I guess Sony would know how to dispose of dead Li-Ion batteries...)
Unfortunately for Honda, my "dirty diesel" Volksvegan is doing more to save the world by burning 100% veg oil, which would otherwise clog up some landfill somewhere. Not only does it run more efficiently than on fossil diesel, giving it a new lease of life after 111k miles, it smells great too!
Hydrogen isn't really a fuel
Unbound hydrogen doesn't exist in nature in any significant quanitity, so the question arises, "where are you going to get it?" It takes more energy to separate hydrogen from water or hydrocarbons than you get back by using it in a fuel cell, so it's inherently not a way to generate power. It is, however, a pretty good way to store power. Using power generated from some other fuel, like natural gas, wind, solar, nuclear or whatever, can be used to split water and thus store some of that power for later. Fuel cells are better thought of as efficient batteries than some kind of replacement for a power generator. Hydrogen is not a fuel, and fuel cells don't generate power. Let's not forget that. If you want to replace crude oil as a vehicle fuel you need to think about actual fuels - like those mentioned above. Hydrogen and fuel cells can play a role, but only as an efficient battery technology to make electric cars possible. An extremely high capacity lithium-ion battery would be just as useful as a fuel cell for displacing oil, and probably cheaper.
Hydrogen is a greenhouse gas
It's actually much worse than CO2, and if you even assume wildly optimistic leakage rates from tanks, hydrogen cars will be about equally bad for the environment versus good ol' gasoline.
It is true that one can create hydrogen through green power like solar or wind, but that power could also be put into the grid to replace oil and coal power. Until gird power is 100% green, hydrogen cars don't get you any improvement. Even once it is, you might as well call it an electric car with a hydrogen-gas battery.
Green? or not Green? that is the question
When you drive please remember that EVERY car produces "greenhouse gases". Remember that humans exhale CO2 24 hours a day (assuming they are alive!). Last I heard most every car I've seen had at least one human in it while it was moving under its own power.
In these times of obesity and climate change it's strange that nobody is working on tapping the energy of humans. Surely there are developments to cycles that can be made?
I don't care about being green
Is there a car out there that can save us from paying a fourth of our monthly earnings on buying gasoline? I know I'm exaggerating, but it's becoming clear that if left unchecked we will soon be working so we can afford to pay for the gas that gets us to work.
But of course we all miss the root cause of the problem...
...there are simply too many human beings on the earth. Too few resources to spread round amongst our many billions. We do sadly have a situation where we have 'surplus population' to use Scrooges phrase.
For now, because we're a long way off from the technology that will help ease the problem, we should be setting population limits on countries. Limiting the number of children per family to one or two.
Then when we do get the next wonder 'green' technology (if it exists) then we can perhaps relax these rules.
One thing that is always overlooked is the poor efficiency of the internal combustion engine. A conventional petrol engined vehicle might use c. 20kW, (c. 15bhp), of power to propel it at a steady 75mph on level ground, but at an overall efficiency of around 30% that means c. 66kW is wasted heating the surrounding atmosphere. Electric vehicles should be able to improve upon this dramatically, certainly at the point of use....
That should be 20kW=27bhp, not 15bhp! (slip of the brain...)
Andrew said that hydrogen doesn't exist in significant quantity in nature...
I beg to differ... It is the most adbundant natural element in the universe! That fact aside, sadly there isnt much in the way of the stuff on this planet.
I said unbound hydrogen. Sure, hydrogen may be the most abundant element in the universe, but here on earth it's all locked up in things like water. There's plenty of it, but it costs more energy to unbind it from water molecules than you get out of it -- not much of a fuel in my opinion. Calling it a fuel makes it seem like an alternative to other power generation methods - which it is not. It's an intermediary - a battery - nothing more.
Hybrid From Hell
So who is going to make and sell this Hydrogen?