Sunday, April 12, 2009

Need a New Car?

Honda just came out with a new fuel-cell technology car called the FCX  Clarity.  It is completely fueled by hydrogen, so the only by-product that the car actually produces is water.  On their website, they boast that the car only uses hydrogen, which is produced domestically - either extracted from water or reformed from natural gas, so it will be a boost to the U.S. economy.  However, they are only releasing about 200 over the next 3 years and only in Southern California, so nothing is going to change quickly.  

Obviously it's great to have zero-emission technology on the market, but I'm not convinced that this is the solution we've been looking for.  The first problem is that right now only the rich in California have access to the new technology.  Understandably, they need to test out the new cars and new refueling stations, but even if this new idea catches on like Honda is hoping, the switch to this new technology is going to take a LONG time because it requires building an entirely new infrastructure of refueling stations.  Even more than that, mechanics would need to be trained in this completely new technology.  Even with the economic stimulus package that includes $13 billion for renewable fuels, this new infrastructure cannot be developed quickly enough to make the technology affordable for the average car-buyer.  To some extent, new technology is always going to be exclusively for the wealthy, but for some reason I don't see this type of technology ever trickling down and becoming affordable for everyone.