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Honda predicts 2020 ramp-up for hydrogen fuel cells

Although Honda will launch a larger-volume fuel cell vehicle next year, Thomas Brachmann, the carmaker's chief project engineer for powertrain technology, said it foresees a few hurdles to overcome before the technology can become a mass-market option, notably controlling reliability and quality in line with its expectations.

‘The quality of our vehicles is given but with a new technology such as this we have to give it time to achieve the levels of quality and reliability that we want. With small volume production you can control this. For example there are hundreds of cells connected in a series in each fuel cell stack and they all need to work or the car will stop.’ he told news agency Headlineauto.

Brachmann also said infrastructure remains a challenge. Although hydrogen tanks can be refuelled in three or four minutes, these need to be less than 180 miles apart and common enough for there not to be queues at the stations as vehicle numbers increase.

Honda is working with the Clean Energy Partnership and programmes in Germany and the UK to help synchronise a pan-European network, and Brachmann said the Scandinavian countries are also moving quicker than most towards establishing one.

‘There is still a misunderstanding about hydrogen which people fear can explode, but we need to demonstrate better how safe it is and also how green it is. It is another version of an electric vehicle with a much, much better range – it is totally sustainable and emits only water.’

Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.

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