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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars: The Japanese push

Sun, 16 Jan 2011

Honda Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car - already in the real world at $600 a month

We make no secret of the fact that we consider Hybrid cars a stop-gap solution to reducing reliance on oil. And frankly, unless you drive like a saint you’ll probably find you get inferior performance and poorer fuel consumption out of regular hybrids than you would from a decent eco-diesel.

Only when you start to put complex hybrid systems in high-end cars do you start to come up with something that does mitigate fuel use and improve performance. But even at the top end hybrids are just a sop to the climate-change bods.

We are hugely in favour of the use of petrol engines for almost all hybrids as that reduces the emissions that really matter, such as NOx, hydrocarbons and particulate matter. But that applies to most non-hybrid petrol engines too. So a solution is still needed that will allow us to move away from oil without losing the freedom and convenience our ICE cars provide.

Incentives provided by governments for ‘Low Emission’ cars (not real low emissions, but low CO2) and penalties for not achieving lower CO2 emissions and better economy, has skewed the market in favour of BEV (battery electric vehicles) and hybrids, both of which are a nonsense.

BEVs will never provide the range current ICE cars do and hybrids are an over-complicated solution which only work if you drive everywhere very slowly. In fact, we’d contend that most lower-end hybrids probably emit more CO2 than comparable non-hybrids if they are driven in a spirited fashion. Their economy certainly drops through the floor if you hustle.

But the Japanese are looking a little further than the end of their noses on this. We’ve moaned that Nissan has become obsessed with Electric Cars and Toyota with Hybrids. But they are just two of thirteen Japanese car makers and energy companies who have teamed up to push hydrogen fuel cell cars forward ahead of a commercial launch in Japan in 2015, proving we were talking rubbish when we accused them of putting all their eggs in one basket.

They are planning on building a chain of hydrogen filling stations across Japan and working with local government to educate and inform car owners about the hydrogen fuel cell. They are also hoping their initiative will encourage the Japanese Government to get involved.

A big step in the right direction.

By Cars UK