TOKYO -- Honda Motor Co. engineers have achieved one fuel cell milestone: The Honda FCX fuel cell car operates below the freezing temperature of water -- minus 4 F to be precise.
So the engineers have set a new goal: A fuel cell car that works at minus 22 F. Engineers at Toyota Motor Corp. have set the same goal.
Cold operation is just one technical challenge with which Honda and Toyota engineers are wrestling. Their long-term goal is to create a fuel cell car that is comparable to one powered by an internal combustion engine.
The engineers are giving themselves plenty of time. If all goes well, Honda hopes to sell 50,000 fuel cell vehicles a year in the United States by 2020. Toyota wants to sell 12,000 fuel cell vehicles annually in the United States in the early 2010s.
"Without an improvement to run at minus 30 C (minus 22 F), we can't expand the use of fuel cell cars all over the world," says Yozo Kami, executive chief engineer of Honda R&D Co., Honda's research arm. Kami has led Honda's fuel cell project since 1998.