Setting the stage for its next generation fuel cell model due to hit showrooms in 2015, the Honda FCEV Concept made its world debut in Los Angeles. Beneath dramatically aero-contoured bodywork, this sleek, 5-passenger semi-sedan is fitted with the automaker's latest and most sophisticated fuel cell package that's been sized and scaled to allow its use in a variety of other FCEV models. Admitting that the avant-garde appearance of this one-off only hints at the design direction we'll see in its upcoming fuel cell vehicles, Tetsuo Iwamura, president and CEO of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. did note: "While this car is a concept, it points toward a very real future."
Although the automaker began leasing its first fuel cell car, the Honda FCX, back in 2002, it was the arrival of the futuristic FCX Clarity in 2008 that really raised Honda's profile in this ultra-green realm. As the world's first dedicated fuel cell vehicle, this futuristic sedan boldly pushed the boundaries of what was possible in a zero-emissions offering. The new Honda FCEV Concept leverages that visual distinction and technological knowledge base to an entirely new level with an eye towards creating a zero-emissions car that will be priced at an "affordable" level.
While Honda execs made no mention of the output of the electric motor or supplemental battery pack that will be installed in a production version of the FCEV Concept, they did confirm that the new fuel cell stack turns out something in excess of the FCX Clarity's 100kW of power. This latest generation of Honda's "V-flow" stack also boasts a world-class power density of 3kW per liter - a 60 percent increase over the current generation unit. Equally significant, Honda managed to reduce the size of this power module by 33 percent. That dimensional decrease helped improve cabin packaging by allowing all key elements of the FCEV Concept's fuel cell powertrain to be located beneath its hood. With a projected driving range in excess of 300 miles, the upcoming Honda FCEV also will outdistance the FCX Clarity by over 60 miles on a single load of hydrogen.
"The Honda FCEV Concept not only sets our direction for our next generation fuel-cell vehicle in 2015, but for future improvements in electric drive technology," said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co. "The advancements we are making are substantial, meaningful and very real." While creating an FCEV with a genuinely user-friendly price tag and developing a viable hydrogen infrastructure continue to loom as major hurdles, Honda clearly is gearing up to remain a key player in what it sees as an even-greener tomorrow."
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