TOUR BOOSTS HYDROGEN AS FUTURE FUEL OF CHOICE POWER: VEHICLES USING ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCE END A NATIONWIDE JOURNEY.
Crossing the finish line in a 13-day national tour, a fleet of hydrogen- powered vehicles will roll into town Saturday to highlight progress made with the gasoline-free technology.
Consumers can check out the 13 pre-commercial vehicles and get a glimpse of what the future might hold.
"The technology has been around for decades. What's new is getting it into the hands of consumers," said Patrick Serfass, a spokesman for the National Hydrogen Association. "And for consumers to want to use a new technology, they have to be familiar with it."
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Hydrogen Road Tour kicked off Aug. 11 in Portland, Maine, before making its way to Southern California.
Hydrogen has been touted as the next viable option to our dependence on foreign oil because it can be produced from coal, oil, feedstocks and biomass. That allows countries to produce it with their own domestic supplies.
Just how soon hydrogen-powered cars hit the road in full force depends on how quickly the nationwide infrastructure to fuel them is completed.
More than 60 hydrogen fueling stations stand nationwide today, with 26 in California, mostly between Los Angeles and San Diego and San Francisco and Sacramento.
The latest local hydrogen-fueling station opened at a Shell in West Los Angeles in late June. It's being used by motorists leasing hydrogen-powered cars from Honda and General Motors, paying $5 there for one kilogram of hydrogen, the equivalent of one gallon of gasoline.
Expected to roll into showrooms by 2018, the Honda FCX Clarity, for example, is just now pulling onto the streets on three-year leases for only 200 motorists, who must live near the hydrogen-fueling station to be approved for the $600 monthly lease, said Todd Mittleman, a Honda spokesman.
With a 4-kilogram hydrogen tank, the Honda gets the equivalent of 74 miles per gallon. For $20 to fill the tank, drivers can go about 280 miles, Mittleman said.
"In essence, it's an electric car," he said. "You're just using hydrogen and oxygen and a fuel cell to create electricity."
With its reputation for loving the automobile, Los Angeles is garnering more attention from the hydrogen fuel-cell industry than other cities. Industry officials are focusing on building the L.A. market, then bringing that model to other cities, said Roy Kim, a spokesman for the California Fuel Cell Partnership.
"If you look at the trend of personal mobility and exclusively at the passenger vehicle, vehicles are going to be electrified," Kim said. "Hydrogen fuel cells are one of the ways to get there with zero emissions."
Construction of a hydrogen-fueling infrastructure was launched four years ago when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order creating the $90 million public-private partnership.
Known as the California Hydrogen Highway, it's visualized as a network of 150 to 200 hydrogen-fueling stations across the state, with one standing every 20 miles on major highways by 2010.
WANT TO GO?
The national tour of hydrogen-powered vehicles will reach Los Angeles on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. inside the California Science Center at Exposition Park, 700 State Drive. Admission is free.
WANT TO GO? (see text)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Aug 22, 2008|
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