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Transportation & Fuel Source Technology

Honda FCX Concept Fuel-Cell Car Makes North American Debut

A fully-functional Honda FCX Concept fuel cell vehicle is on display for the first time to the general public at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The next-generation Honda FCX Concept by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Tokyo, features a newly developed compact, high-efficiency Honda Fuel Cell Stack as well as a low-floor, low-riding, short-nose body. It offers a comfortably large cabin and futuristic styling along with significant improvements in power output and environmental performance. Limited marketing of a totally new fuel cell vehicle based on this concept model is scheduled to be introduced in 2008 in Japan and North America.

To meet Honda objectives for significant gains in both environmental and driving performance, the FCX Concept is equipped with a V-Flow fuel cell platform consisting of a compact, high-efficiency fuel cell stack arranged in an innovative center-tunnel layout. This has allowed designers to create an elegant, low-riding, sedan form that would have been difficult to achieve in a conventional fuel cell vehicle.

Honda's new fuel cell (FC) stack is 20 per cent smaller and 30 per cent lighter than the current Honda FCX FC Stack, yet its power output is 14 kilowatts (kW) greater. The drive motor has been positioned coaxially with the gearbox for a more compact design, with output increased by 15kW.

Overall, the power plant is about 180 kilograms lighter than that of the current FCX and about 40 per cent smaller in volume. The result is improved energy efficiency and performance along with a more spacious interior.

In previous fuel cell stacks, the hydrogen and the water formed in electricity-generation flowed horizontally. The new FCX Concept features vertical-flow design. This allows gravity to assist in discharging the water that is produced, resulting in a major improvement in water drainage, which is a key to high-efficiency fuel stack performance. The result is stable power generation under a broad range of conditions, and higher output from a smaller package.

Low-temperature startup has also been significantly improved, enabling cold-weather starts at temperatures 10o C lower than the current FCX - as low as minus 30o C.

As an auxiliary power source, the FCX Concept carries a compact, high-efficiency lithium ion battery, contributing to increased power output and a more compact power plant. These efficiency improvements to major power plant components give the vehicle a travel range approximately 30 per cent greater than the current FCX.

The vehicle is also highly efficient, with an energy efficiency of around 60 per cent - approximately three times that of a gasoline-engine vehicle, twice that of a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, and 10 per cent better than the current FCX.

Other features include seat upholstery and door linings made from Honda Bio Fabric, a plant-based material that offers outstanding durability and resistance to sunlight damage.

Additional improvements such as Shift-by-Wire and a newly designed instrument panel with easy-to-read display of hydrogen fuel consumption facilitate improved ease of operation.

Honda's new fuel cell vehicle, currently under development for release in 2008, will feature the principle technologies of the FCX Concept to achieve a new dimension in environmentally friendly driving pleasure not found with gasoline-engine vehicles.

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