After decades of work on hydrogen fuel cell technology for their cars, Honda unveiled their new Clarity Fuel Cell sedan recently. The fuel cell used to power the car produces around 175 horsepower, and allows the car to travel over 300 miles before refueling.
Similarly to electric cars, the hydrogen fuel cell car produces zero emissions, making it a sustainable alternative for the future. Electric cars, however, have a lesser range and come with the inconvenience of long waits to recharge.
On the other hand, hydrogen run cars have their drawbacks: there is a general lack of hydrogen being produced and the current manner of producing what is available creates greenhouse gases in the process. There also is a dearth of infrastructure in place for creating and transporting hydrogen fuel cells. On a more promising note, as hydrogen is a hugely abundant element naturally, there are other more renewable ways of producing it that aren’t yet being utilized, and governments will likely offer subsidies or tax breaks to encourage this production in the future.
In California, there are already plans being developed to create 68 stations strategically built throughout the state in order to support 10,000 hydrogen cars around the San Francisco area. Three stations are currently up and running.
Japan’s government encourages similar developments through subsidies, and 81 hydrogen stations have been built in the country, although this number is easily outweighed by the number of gas stations, of which there are 34,000.
Because of these limitations, hydrogen fuel cell technology is not yet practical for the average consumer - when the Clarity starts to be sold in March in Japan, it will be offered to business and government customers with stable routes, located near fueling stations. The interest in making this technology more universal is clear, however, as both Toyota and Mercedes-Benz are also beginning to showcase hydrogen cars throughout California.