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Japanese motor colossus Honda has walked back somewhat on its recent announcement that it would sell hydrogen fuel cell cars in America and Japan for just £50,000. The new FCX Clarity Hydrogen cars for all - in parts of California The revelations last month caused a stir in the global motor industry, which had not been …

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Bronze badge

All very nice, but is it sustainable?

Hydrogen is nice, but its not exactly sustainable. Hydrogen is currently produced in quantity from cracking crude oil, not from electrolysis. Fuel cells require platinum, which is a very rare metal. The car is a nice concept, but its not a sustainable model for the future.

There was a concept for a car built from bamboo (Honda or Yamaha, I think) that could be pedaled in rush-hour traffic or driven with an engine when the traffic sped up. Very light vehicles (velomobiles or bicycles) are really the future of personal transportation.

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Unhappy

bamboo vehicle - no thanks

We're looking to replace our Vectra at the moment, since we no longer do as many long journeys. 95% of the time, it's now just pootling around London - and a 2.2l car is not really appropriate.

However, almost all of the electric cars (which would be perfect, from what I understand, for stop/go traffic) are not put through the standard car safety tests - and I'm not going to put my 15 month old son in a car that isn't as safe as the one that he's already in.

I imagine a "very light vehicle" is likely to have the same problem - so with the number of 4x4/SUV on the road, it ain't gonna happen.

Maybe the car manufacturers should concentrate on killing the idea of the school run first?

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Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: the future of personally transportation

Whilst I'd agree with most of Brian's comments. I'd be surprised if...

"There was a concept for a car built from bamboo (Honda or Yamaha, I think) that could be pedaled in rush-hour traffic"

Can you really see most car users peddling? Is it going to provide a shower... etc... to clean up again afterwards. How hard do you have to peddle to get the aircon working? Is it physically possible to shift out more heat than you generate by peddling.

"Very light vehicles (velomobiles or bicycles) are really the future of personal transportation."

As much as I'd like to believe you that the likes of Gordon Murray and the guys from Caparro can pull off the concept of very light vehicles. I'd be more inclined to think that the future of the personal transportation is the Abraham's tank.

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Gold badge

Yes, it's sustainable.

The reason for abandoning petrol is not the lack of hydrocarbons. (At the current price per barrel, we have known reserves to last several centuries.) It is that burning it in the car releases CO2 and we aren't supposed to do that anymore. If you could fit "carbon capture" to the exhaust pipe of a normal car, even *that* would be sustainable.

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Go

Sustainable hydrogen production

How about using nuclear power plants to generate electricity to electrolyse water to produce hydrogen? It's pretty obvious that Nuclear Power 2.0 (tm) is the way forward ...

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Anonymous Coward

Not far enough anyway

That's a pathetic fill up distance. My current (2001) car easily goes 600 miles per tank, and I often need to travel from home to Thames valley and back (round trip about 300 miles) - I couldn't even do that once with this, I'd get stuck somewhere in the midlands!

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Bronze badge
Paris Hilton

Milk Floats

Surely the answer has to be compulsory electric milk floats for the masses.

Just think of the advantages... no emissions, no overtaking, little opportunity for speeders, no exploding fuel tanks, no congestion charge, all the electricity you could possibly want and - of course - a handy supply of nutritious milk on tap at all times. With benefits like that it would hardly be worth travelling home at night. That could solve the housing shortage too.

I can't think why this isn't already enshrined in UK law.

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Thumb Down

Whats the 0 - 60

Whats the 0 - 60 on these cars?

Anything over 5 seconds I'm not intrested!

What does the engine sound like? Unless it sounds like an angry beast (such as a BDA), Im not intrested!

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Distribution costs

Ok, whether you're producing H2 at home or having to go to an updated service station to fill up, there's going to be a large cost to installing equipment for this. Currently, there's already an energy distribution system in place; electricity. Bio-fuels, H2, cooking oil, etc. are not as efficient for delivery as electricity. Push all the carbon emission stuff to power plants, where it can be effectively and cheaply trapped/dealt with. Electric cars are the way to go, at least in urban/suburban areas.

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Im still waiting

for that toothpaste car in Roald Dahl's BFG...

We'd need bigger tubes though, you'd like a right tool squeezing a hundred tubes of paste into your car in the morning.

Aquafresh could be the petrol for speed junkys and boy racer twats...

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Paris Hilton

nukes to make hydrogen

Nuclear power for electric car = good. Nuclear power to make electricity to make highly explosive, hard to contain hydrogen to fill my car to make electricity to run the car = much more entertaining car crashes. Hollywood was just ahead of it's time.

Nuke -> electricity -> hydrogen -> tanker -> gas station -> car -> electricity

or

Nuke -> electricity -> power line -> car

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Im still waiting

for that toothpaste car in Roald Dahl's BFG...

We'd need bigger tubes though, you'd like a right tool squeezing a hundred tubes of paste into your car in the morning.

Aquafresh could be the petrol for speed junkys and boy racer twats...

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Gates Halo

Cars 2.0 lol

Why would anyone want to save a few quid on fuel and "save" the planet? I'll stick with my my Petrol powered Jag, I can get from Cardiff to Swansea and back on just under 40 litres lol

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Paris Hilton

another car only for the rich, established and priviledged.

perfect for AlGoreans-unless you own a real house (which is difficult to do in CA) you cannot install this "Home Energy Station". Doesn't fit in condos, can't be set up in apartments-only landowners get this "right". Which doesn't bother Hollywood, media twits or California Senators one whit.

Plus, like the electric cars, it allows your power company to completely own your @ss. Government wants to lock people down? Cut off the power (rolling blackouts) and you can't run your reformer. Natural gas (also thru the same company here-and no competition!) can be shut off to an entire city block. In an emergency (earthquake?) and gas is shut off to avoid leaks, you are locked in, unable to drive.

Plus, you're storing compressed gaseous hydrogen at this "energy station". And giving this capability to the Paris Hilton's and Britney Spears' of the world?

Naw, no potential for anything to go wrong there.

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Thumb Up

Hydrogen Cars

It is well known that conventional petrol (and diesel) engines can easily be converted to run on hydrogen gas. Although this is not as efficient as fuel cells, it still does not release carbon dioxide. Sure, you can't go 600 miles on a single tank (without a storage tank of several cubic furlongs volume), but most people do travel less than 30 miles a day.

Which is simpler: having to drill down kilometers into the ocean bed to get what dregs of oil remain, or derive your fuel from an offshore windfarm, powering electrolysers, piping clean pure Hydrogen ashore direct to the filling stations, or even having your own turbine/solar array at home? "Oh! You'd need to invest in infrastructure!" I hear you cry...

Grow up and learn that oil and gas will not last forever. Compunding this with the multitudes of environmental data showing our all-conquering human race making a complete mess of the planet, it is fairly obvious we must change, and fast. The sooner we find our alternatives the better. Whining how the development models of new technologies are not as good as incredibly well developed existing technology is not going to help anyone. I applaud Honda for their efforts. Forget your souped up SUVs and 4x4s for 5 seconds please and quit yerr moanin'.

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@damien

Good god, and I thought my car was a guzzler - just how big IS your Jag - that's like about 2 miles per litre!

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Silver badge

Home kit ...

That "Home Energy Station" sounds nice ... except I can't use it for the same reasons Rick Brasche mentioned: I live in an apartment block. Even if I owned the thing, I would only be able to do this if I had the snazzy "roof garden" ones in the top floor. Same goes for those "solar water heaters" I hear about.

Plus, having concentrated Hydrogen in less than capable hands just gives me the shivers. I would be afraid about someone doing a Darwin ... and taking down the entire building with them.

I really really hope for hydrogen cars to succed, but I don't think these home kits would be dumb-proof. And I live in Mexico, where cultural disregard for safety measures means that a lot of people are doing things that are potentially Darwin Awards material...

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Silver badge
Joke

BFG

Yipes. I read "BFG" and immediately thought about big guns.

Then I realized it was not Doom-related. Though using a BFG9000 as a power source for my car might be a good thing! ;)

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Stop

Not Nuclear

Arguments that nuclear is a clean and sustainable fuel are misinformed propaganda.

The energy required to build the station, extract the ore, reprocess it, transport it, plus all the associated low level waste disposal and high level waste containment etc. are far and above any notion of 'zero' output.

And of course there's the decommissioning and management of the site after it's useful life.

(Of course that's overlooking the obvious risk of leaks, explosions and contamination.)

The only argument for nuclear is to maintain a supply of weopons grade nuclear material, any other arguments are a smokescreen for this.

Sustainably produced electricity charging batteries or 'creating' hydrogen for fuel cell cars has got to be the practical way forward.

(Biofuels are equally a non-starter due to the vast amounts of energy consumed producing fertilisers, managing the land, transporting and processing the crop)

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@Chris Paulson

Boy Racer.

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@Fullykins

Nop - Man racer, I do rallying as a hobby.

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Weight

Try stopping making cars so god damn heavy.... that'll help quite a lot.

I have a wonderful car that does 40+ mpg, 150mph and 0-60 (for all the point there is to that)in around 4 seconds and all runs on normal petrol - the reason being it weighs around 700Kg, not 1500Kg as per your average VW Golf.

But i too applaud Honda for making an effort.

For the person above after a car to replace their Vectra (always a good step) look at the Renault Modus, 5 star in ALL NCAP tests and a recent test on 5th Gear showed a stunning level of security in a head on crash at 40mph (they drove it into a Volvo 740 doing 40mph in the other direction) and the results were astounding.

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Buy a diesel

I run a Merc 190 D 2.5 Turbo (my mate lives in Germania so he got me the engine) its fast and lets face it a 3 pointed star on the bonnet always helps panties drop... :) but I run it on carbon neutral veg oil and its only 38p a litre to boot. Burning fossil fuel to generate electricity or crack crude is just insanity.

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Who Does the Hydrogen Car Serve?

Compare it with gasoline cars: Still depends on fossil fuels, increases complexity of the vehicle, car costs more, fuel costs more.

Who benefits from this? Could it be the same folks currently selling fossil fuels? And the same folks currently making internal combustion vehicles?

(Tidbit for the bio-diesel fans, price of palm oil is climbing like crazy.)

Pure electric cars are so much better is so many different ways, it's just nuts to do anything else, ...unless you're deeply invested in fossil fuels and internal combustion.

Go watch "Who Killed the Electric Car" to see folks to can tell it much better than I. Pay particular attention around the part where California kills the incentives for electric vehicles in favor of hydrogen.

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IT Angle

Insight

The Honda Insight (AFAIK the first Honda hybrid car) looked nothing like it's other lines of cars and got "whupped" by the Prius. I think it is because of the design of the hybrid system rather then the look of the car.

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