Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Well done, GM

Today Honda rolled out a zero emissions vehicle:

Honda's new zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell car rolled off a Japanese production line Monday and is headed to southern California, where Hollywood is already abuzz over the latest splash in green motoring.

The FCX Clarity, which runs on hydrogen and electricity, emits only water and none of the gases believed to induce global warming. It is also two times more energy efficient than a gas-electric hybrid and three times that of a standard gasoline-powered car, the company says.

Honda expects to lease out a "few dozen" units this year and about 200 units over three years. In California, a three-year lease will run $600 a month, which includes maintenance and collision coverage. Link.

This strikes me as bitterly ironic since it was General Motors' EV1—the first legitimate zero emissions vehicle made in America—was decommissioned and shredded in 2003 because GM claimed the EV1's would never be profitable and it was "cheaper to sue the State of California to roll back clean vehicle regulations than it was to build electric vehicles." You can watch the tragic tale in the superb documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car?

Amazingly, it was the EV1's unexpected success which scared the Japanese into thinking they would lose an edge in the automobile wars... so the Japanese designed the first hybrid cars. So, okay, Americans ended up buying Japanese-made hybrids instead of American hybrids. We snoozed, we lost.

But we had a second chance to get it right—because hybrids still run on gas. We had the chance to resurrect and redesign a zero emissions vehicle using no gas at all. It is, in fact, what more and more American consumers have been crying out for.

And now the Japanese have beat us. Again.

So well done, GM. Thanks for shredding all your EV1's. That was really, really smart.

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