Honda Unveils New Fuel Cell, Diesel, and Gasoline Technologies
September 27, 2006
Honda Motor Company, Ltd. announced on September 25th that it is pursuing a full slate of efficient vehicle technologies as part of its global initiative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The company introduced the latest version of its FCX Concept fuel cell vehicle, a low-riding sedan with a "comfortably large" cabin, according to Honda. That spaciousness is due to a new fuel cell stack, which is 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than Honda's current fuel cell stack, yet produces 14 kilowatts more power. The drive motor also has a higher output and has been repositioned coaxially with the gearbox, and the car will store its energy in a lithium-ion battery pack. Overall, the car's power plant is about 400 pounds lighter than the current FCX power plant and about 40 percent smaller. The result is a vehicle with a 30 percent longer range and 10 percent greater energy efficiency than the current FCX. Honda claims the car will start in temperatures as low as 22 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. The company plans to begin limited marketing of the vehicle in Japan and the United States starting in 2008. See the Honda press release.
Honda also unveiled an advanced diesel engine that features an innovative catalytic converter, which will enable the engine to meet stringent new emissions requirements set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In addition, Honda lifted the curtains on a new version of its VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control System) gasoline engine. The Advanced VTEC engine will achieve about a 13 percent improvement in fuel economy by combining optimized air intakes with the computerized ability to vary the extent, timing, and phase of the intake valve lift under changing driving conditions. For instance, under low to medium loads, the valves are set for low lift and early closure to reduce pumping losses and improve fuel economy. Honda plans to introduce both engines in the United States within the next three years. See the Honda press releases on the diesel and Advanced VTEC engines.
Honda has also developed two efficient motorcycle engines: an ultra-low-friction engine and a four-cylinder engine with Variable Cylinder Management, which allows the bike to run on only two or three cylinders under low-load conditions. See the Honda press release on its overall strategy, which includes the motorcycle engines.