Honda’s fuel cell-powered FCX Clarity car bested 21 other competitors to win the 2009 World Green Car award at this week’s New York International Auto Show. In order to qualify for the competition, cars had to be available in at least one major market during 2008. Honda’s hydrogen-powered luxury sedan won because of its low fuel consumption (72 MPG), 267 mile range, and lack of tailpipe emissions. Oh, and air-conditioned seats that blow emissions-free thermoelectrically cooled air.
The competition’s jurors acknowledge that the car is somewhat ahead of its time since a hydrogen fueling infrastructure isn’t in place, but believe that “Honda must be credited for taking a bold step in leasing FCX Clarity to customers in California for US$600 per month”. Still, it’s hard to fathom why the FCX won the competition with so many hybrid electric cars in the pipeline.
Hydrogen has to be compressed at a high pressure, making it difficult to transport. So to store only 5kg of hydrogen, the FCX Clarity needs a giant 171 liter tank. Additionally, a single hydrogen filling station costs $2 million, so an infrastructure isn’t likely to pop up any time soon. Add all that to the fact that most hydrogen fuel is obtained from gasoline and hydrogen-powered cars seem mighty impractical.
Second and third place in the World Green Car competition went to the gasoline-powered Toyota iQ and the all-electric Mitsubishi iMieV.