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HomeAutomotiveHonda Unveils Plug-in Hydrogen Fuel Cell CR-V, America's First.

Honda Unveils Plug-in Hydrogen Fuel Cell CR-V, America’s First.

Honda revealed the first consumer hydrogen fuel cell car in America on Tuesday.

The CR-V e:FCEV, whose name is a mouthful, is an electric vehicle that combines hydrogen fuel cell technology with plug-in charging and has an EPA driving range rating of 270 miles.

Honda announced that customers would be able to lease the cars in California later this year, and the company anticipates selling 2,000 units a year initially.

Honda claims that their new fuel cell system for the CR-V e:FCEV, which was co-developed with General Motors, is more affordable, more efficient, and more durable than Honda’s previous fuel cell system. It is also manufactured in Michigan.

The new car, which is made in Ohio, has a 1,500-watt 110-volt outlet that can charge gadgets like power tools, portable air conditioners, tiny household appliances, and camping gear.

Additionally, Honda said that by utilizing materials resistant to corrosion and carefully suppressing deterioration, it has doubled the fuel cell system’s longevity and enhanced its low-temperature operation.

Infrastructure Difficulty
It’s intriguing to see Honda return to the market after discontinuing the Clarity in 2021 as a result of weak sales. It demonstrates that there is undoubtedly ongoing interest in the technology, according to Ramsy John, manager of business development at the international market research company IDTechEx.

One significant obstacle to the widespread use of fuel cells and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) has been the infrastructure for fueling them.

Edward Sanchez, a senior analyst in TechInsights’ automotive practice, a global provider of technology intelligence, stated, “EV charging stations outnumber hydrogen stations, but fuel cells and EVs share the same challenge in terms of an inadequate fueling infrastructure.”

He clarified that although there are 55 hydrogen filling stations in California, with three of them located in Los Angeles County alone, there are an estimated 41,000 publicly accessible charging ports in the state.

Additionally, Sanchez told TechNewsWorld that “building out a hydrogen fueling infrastructure is much more expensive than installing EV charging points, and hydrogen is difficult to store and distribute on a chemical or molecular level.”

Not for the mass market
“There has never been a widespread adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles, either fuel cells or combustion, particularly in the United States. This is primarily because of problems with the infrastructure for fueling, which has had significant problems with dependability and uptime,” noted Sanchez.

Markets in other countries are not what drive adoption either. According to Sanchez, “the Japanese government’s incentives and encouragement have been the main drivers of the Japanese OEMs’ interest in hydrogen.”

Even if this is just the first year’s goal, the device’s initial sales of 2,000 “don’t suggest any intention to make this a mass-market product,” he told TechNewsWorld.

John pointed out that battery-electric vehicles are already being used in considerably greater quantities and are gaining acceptance. He mentioned that sales of battery-electric automobiles increased by 32% in 2023 to over 9.6 million units in China, Europe, and the United States. In contrast, just over 8,500 fuel cell automobiles were sold worldwide in the previous year—nearly half.

Gaster argued, “Despite massive subsidies, sales of hydrogen-powered vehicles have collapsed in South Korea—two were sold in January—and there is no traction in California either.”

“Surprisingly,” he went on, “BEVs have surpassed hydrogen as the go-to clean power solution for small cars. They will soon disappear from view when manufacturers go to large cars, in which hydrogen will also lose but the margin will be marginally closer.

Keep on Truckin’ Main e-mobility researcher Sam Abuelsamid of Guidehouse Insights, a Detroit industry research firm, stated that fuel cell systems would be more appropriate for larger automobiles, particularly long-haul trucks.

Additionally, long-haul trucks follow set routes, which helps to better regulate the cost of the infrastructure.

According to Abuelsamid, “consumers want infrastructure everywhere and the freedom to drive wherever they want.” “In order to support that use case, you really only need to build fueling stations along major routes for long-haul trucking. This allows you to have fewer hydrogen stations.”

However, the opportunity for FCEVs may be rapidly closing, especially for large trucks. The goal of the MCS [Megawatt Charging System] protocol, which is being developed in collaboration with CharIN [Charging Interface Initiative], is to almost match the recharging time of fuel cells or diesel, according to Sanchez.

“This could potentially deal a fatal blow to hydrogen in the heavy truck market going forward if this premise is proven in practice and adequate heavy truck charging infrastructure can be built that would effectively cover national trucking routes.”

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