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While many new plug-ins boast the convenience and simplicity of recharging the car battery from a household wall socket, how many vehicles can claim to provide the opposite?
Honda has installed an inverter in the trunk of one special FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, providing output power that could supply up to 8 kilowatts of electricity for more than seven hours from a full tank of hydrogen — a figure that is supposedly enough to power the average Japanese home for six days. This particular FCX has been delivered to the Saitama Prefecture government, which was also an early-adopter of a solar-powered hydrogen station.
Concerns over power shortages have heightened since last year’s natural disaster and the subsequent nuclear plant shutdown, causing a spike in interest for electric vehicles that may double as emergency power suppliers for homes. Last year, Nissan demonstrated its Leaf-to-Home, which claimed the power output could generate enough to sustain an average household for two days. Unlike fuel cells, an electric battery can only store electricity rather than generate it, resulting in a less flexible application when compared to fuel-cell technology.
GALLERY: Honda FCX Clarity Fuel Cell
Tomohiko Kawanabe, Honda‘s president of research & development, expressed doubts about consumer demand for electric vehicles. “We lack confidence,” Kawanabe said in an interview with Automotive News.“It’s questionable whether consumers will accept the annoyances of limited driving range and having to spend time charging them.”
Rival automakers like Nissan and General Motors are pushing ahead with their own EV programs. Nissan’s Leaf is expected to roll out on a limited basis at the end of 2010, while GM’s Chevrolet Volt has been a media darling, enjoying significant positive press. Honda, a company that has always mandated fuel efficiency as one of its prime directives, will continue to press on with this goal, while still exploring other options. “We are definitely conducting research on electric cars, but I can’t say I can wholeheartedly recommend them,” Kawanabe said.
Honda was a pioneer of early EV technology with the EV Plus compact electric vehicle that was available in California from 1997-1999. About 30o cars were leased but Honda did not consider the program successful. Honda is pushing for hydrogen fuel cell technology as the standard for future automobiles, but their progress is currently hampered by inadequate infrastructure surrounding refueling. Honda currently sells their FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle (pictured above) in California. Kawanabe also said that the company is exploring the possibility of building hybrids in North America.
Gallery: Honda FCX Clarity
[Source: Automotive News]
The new Volkswagen Golf has been named the World Car of the Year (WCOTY) by the International Motor Press Association. The group, comprised of journalists from twenty-five countries picked the new Golf over the other two finalists, the Ford Festiva and the Toyota iQ micro-car.
But the WCOTY awards are about more than just one car, as awards are also handed out in the design, performance and environmentally-friendly categories.
Taking the top spot for the Performance group was, not surprisingly, the Nissan GT-R, which beat out finalists like the Corvette ZR1 and Porsche 911 Carrera.
In the Green Car category, the award went to Honda for its FCX Clarity hydrogen-fuel cell car, which is capable of 72 mpg. Other finalists in that segment were the Mitsubishi iMieV, as well as the Toyota’s iQ.
The top cars in the design category are always amusing because of how odd they normally are… and this year was no exception. Nominated were (again) the Toyota iQ, the Citroen C5 Sedan and Tourer, the Jaguar XF (which we can almost understand) and the Fiat 500. And the 500 took the top spot for best design. Apparently “looking cool” wasn’t one of the qualifications.