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More On New Clean, Quiet Fuel Cell Cars

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 725 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... NEW CLEAN, QUIET CARS GUZZLE HYDROGEN By Jeordan
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 12, 2002
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      NHNE News List
      Current Members: 725
      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.


      By Jeordan Legon
      Thursday, October 10, 2002


      (CNN) -- They don't use gasoline or electricity, but these new Honda and
      Mercedes-Benz cars can whiz by at speeds up to 93 mph.

      The new fuel cell cars are powered by hydrogen, the most abundant element in
      the universe, and they are pollution and noise free.

      The mayor of smog-choked Los Angeles, Jim Hahn, likes them so much he signed
      a lease with Honda this week that will put city employees behind the wheel
      of five of the experimental cars by year's end.

      "Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles hold great promise for future clean air
      vehicles," Hahn said in a press release. "It's important that Los Angeles
      play a leading role in development and early use of this technology."

      Not to be outdone, DaimlerChrysler also announced this week the production
      of a fleet of Mercedes-Benz A-Class cars in the U.S. and Europe. Like
      Honda's cars, the DaimlerChrysler cars get their power from compressed
      hydrogen, which mixes with oxygen to create electricity.

      But finding a fueling station won't be easy. Companies who agree to use
      Mercedes-Benzes' 60 fuel cell cars will also have to install
      hydrogen-filling stations, and a Honda spokesman said his company plans a
      mobile refueling unit.

      Honda's fuel cell vehicle can reach speeds of 93 mph.

      If all that compressed hydrogen sounds dangerous, DaimlerChrysler spokesman
      Max Gates offered some reassurance.

      "The engineering has been done with the fuel tanks to ensure their safety in
      all kinds of conditions, including collisions," he said.

      Honda said its cars are certified by the California Air Resources Board and
      the Environmental Protection Agency.

      And the company claims its fuel cell cars even outlast the Mercedes version,
      covering 220 miles before needing refueling. The Mercedes car is a hydrogen
      guzzler in comparison -- getting only 90 miles per tank.

      Pressure mounts

      While the auto industry has tested hydrogen-powered cars for years, this is
      the first time that automakers are letting average drivers have the keys, a
      crucial step before the cars can be introduced to the general market.

      That's not likely to happen for a decade or longer while more testing is
      done, Gates said.

      Hydrogen is the latest in a long line of alternative fuels considered by
      automakers: electricity, methanol and natural gas among them.

      With pressure to introduce more zero-emission vehicles -- including a
      California law requiring a percentage of new cars sold in that state to
      produce no smog -- the car industry is in a race to find a new fuel that
      will click with consumers.

      Blame game

      Car industry critics say the problem lies with automakers reticent to shell
      out millions of dollars to develop the technology. Carmakers blame consumers
      for not embracing alternative fuel vehicles.

      With environmental damage from vehicle emissions mounting, many fleets of
      alternative fuel cars will have to hit the road to clean the air, said
      Richard Varenchik, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board.

      "It's really for the automakers to decide to a great extent when they will
      introduce the cars to a wide enough market and then for the public to use
      them," Varenchik said.


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