For the conspiracy theorists among you, a not-so-suprising story has emerged from Edwin Black’s book, “The Plan: How to Save America When The Oil Stops-or the Day Before,” which highlights the perceived stalling Honda appears to be doing with its own Hydrogen program. A car company deliberately undermining alternative fuels is not much of a stretch anyway, but logic, and Black’s book both seem to support the fact that a mass produced hydrogen vehicle from Honda should already be here.
In short, Honda has claimed for awhile that the thing holding up its Clarity (also known as the FCX), was not its own capabilities in producing it in large numbers, but a lack of infrastructure needed to fuel the vehicle. The man in charge of the production of the clarity has already stated that, “Basically, we can mass produce these now. We are waiting for the infrastructure to catch up.” However, just like the Civic GX, which runs on compressed natural gas, the Clarity was developed with the idea that owners would fuel up at home, without the need of a public infrastructure that Honda asserts is needed. So one would think that the technology needed for a “home base” fuel pump just hasn’t developed or needs more testing. Not so. The Honda Home Energy Center is designed and ready to be built with only a few months of notice by a company located in New York. The unit itself is roughly the size of a home AC unit and would not only fuel a hydrogen car but provide the household electricity using the natural gas that already runs to the house. Similar units are already in use in Japan to generate residential electricity. This sort of system would seem to fit perfectly into the energy policy proposed by T. Boone Pickens.
Because Honda is the sole developer and owner of the license of such a home fuel system they have complete control over its ever being built. It is probable that Honda sees an advantage in the short term of simply building their largely fuel efficient gas powered vehicles while former SUV and gas guzzler owners keep lining up. Another theory is that since Honda vehicles have a generally long lifespan, Honda hopes to squeeze out a couple more years of normal vehicle production and therefore generate increased part and repair income that will result from normal dealer services. Whether any of these reasons are behind Honda’s motivation in dragging its feet is merely speculation, of course. It would be naive, however, to think that economics don’t play a significant role.