Statement of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. to the Department of Energy
One of the catalysts for the dramatic increase in interest in FCEVs by automakers are regulatory standards at the federal and state level that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s transportation sector. The 2017-2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy/Greenhouse Gas (CAFE/GHG) standards are significant achievements by the Obama Administration. While these standards do not mandate specific technologies, they envision a national policy of progressively-increased fuel efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gases, goals that beyond this timeline will prove challenging for the internal combustion engine and traditional fuels to meet. Automakers recognize these challenges and are not waiting for the day when we exhaust the efficiency of gasoline vehicles. We are committed to developing an array of advanced vehicle technologies that our customers want and love to drive, and Honda believes that FCEVs are well-positioned to meet and even exceed consumer expectations.
FCEVs have many of the characteristics that appeal to customers who are accustomed to the convenience and utility of gasoline-powered vehicles. The technology is scalable, meaning a fuel cell stack can be used to power a small car, a minivan, or a bus. The driving range is comparable to that of gasoline-powered vehicles, enabling longer trips in a single stretch. Finally, when it is time to refuel, it only takes 3-5 minutes to refill the hydrogen tank in a FCEV. With an adequate refueling infrastructure, the “range anxiety” that accompanies some of the other advanced technology vehicles will be non-existent with FCEVs.
State policies are playing a significant role as well. California’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program, which has been adopted by nine other states, is pushing automakers to produce and sell ZEVs in ever-increasing volumes. These states are poised to require at least 3.3 million ZEVs – plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, and FCEVs – collectively on their roads by 2025.6
Taken together, these programs are driving revolutionary change in personal mobility. But they are destined to fail unless customers are willing to buy the vehicles. Automakers bear the responsibility to design, produce and market cars that meet the demands of discriminating consumers. Significant progress is being made toward achieving that goal. But unless the infrastructure to refuel these advanced technology vehicles is readily available, we will be unable to sell them in the volumes necessary to prompt migration to these more efficient, clean, and sustainable transportation technologies. The burden of defining a strategy to build this new infrastructure lies foremost with the federal government, and the QER is the document in which that direction needs to be outlined.
Currently, hydrogen is being used not only in the nascent fuel cell industry, but also by refineries to produce motor fuels. An infrastructure to move and store hydrogen from its sources of production to the point of retail must be conceived and built for the U.S. to meet its future energy needs and compete in the hydrogen sector already being pursued in Asia and Europe.
Honda understands that the second QER report will include an assessment of the state of advanced technology vehicles and infrastructure. While FCEVs should play a prominent role in that discussion, the infrastructure needs for production, distribution, and storage of hydrogen are substantial. The first QER report, which will focus specifically on electricity and transportation infrastructure needs, should address how hydrogen can enable the federal government and the nation to meet its energy and climate goals.
Thank you for your ongoing work to set our nation on a prosperous, sustainable energy course for the future.