Going further against the vehicle mainstream, Honda is also staying away from EV development, instead focusing on hydrogen only. Is this a good decision? Is hydrogen more practical; will it not matter, meaning we'll use both; or is Honda on the path of foolhardiness?
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Despite recent blows to hydrogen infrastructure development, Honda this week reaffirmed that it will be mass-produced. The automaker still has plans to make a future version of the FCX on a mass-production scale within ten years.
California has kept with that long-term vision, along with a short-term one to build up the infrastructure before the vehicles. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been bullish on hydrogen, pushing ahead for more hydrogen vehicles and an expanded infrastructure, and even declaring his love for the FCX. And that was after the Obama administration had made some strong moves away from federal funding of hydrogen projects and toward battery technology and charging infrastructure, with Energy Secretary Steven Chu declaring that hydrogen vehicles were still 10 to 20 years from viability.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda last week said that the company also plans a publicly available fuel-cell car within six years, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi and Nissan are betting on electric cars, with Nissan recently unveiling its LEAF, a car that will be mass-produced in the U.S. beginning in 2012. General Motors is preparing its much-publicized extended-range electric vehicle, the Volt, but it's also still moving ahead with fuel-cell development, says Automotive News, despite tremendous cost hurdles to overcome.
An important point to remember is that these two technologies aren't completely independent. However, a Honda engineer explained to TheCarConnection.com earlier this year that electric-vehicle technology is a building block for hydrogen tech. Honda is working on lithium-ion batteries, motors, and charging as part of its fuel-cell development, so if electric vehicles end up being the popular solution, the company will be prepared.