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Clean cars

thomas

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Japan leads the race to develop cars that use fuel cells, which could replace combustion engines, reports Far Eastern Economic Review:

The world's first five cars in everyday use powered by fuel cells, which convert hydrogen into electricity, have now been on Tokyo's roads for six months. That's a gratifying milestone for Toyota Motor and Honda Motor, the two Japanese companies that last December were the first car makers to turn fuel-cell-equipped cars over to ordinary drivers, setting the pace for rivals like General Motors and Ford Motor. GM has only this month delivered cars with fuel cells for test-driving by American lawmakers.

Japanese car makers have long focused on developing environmentally friendly technology. But there's another reason for their head start: government support. For the fiscal year ending next March, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, or Meti, plans to budget ツ・30.7 billion ($262 million) to develop fuel cells for use in cars, plus electronics and other systems. In comparison, the United States government has earmarked $150 million for fuel-cell development this year.

For the car industry, fuel cells comprise an important technology that could replace fossil fuels. While today's petrol- and diesel-guzzling vehicles are major emitters of pollution, fuel-cell cars run on electricity created by combining hydrogen--one of the cleanest energy sources--with oxygen from the air, and the only by-product is water. The ministry aims to have 50,000 fuel-cell cars on the road by 2010, and 5 million by 2020. Currently, there are about 70 million cars on the road in Japan. [...]

=> http://www.feer.com/articles/2003/0305_29/p036innov.html

Toyota's fuel-cell-powered FCHV-4
 

Iron Chef

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"The ministry aims to have 50,000 fuel-cell cars on the road by 2010, and 5 million by 2020. Currently, there are about 70 million cars on the road in Japan."

Kudos to Japan. Let's hope that in my lifetime soon we will see an end to the monopoly the "Big Three" have had on automobile engineering practices here in the U.S... It's absolutely ridiculous that cars today are getting the same (or even worse in some cases) mileage than similar cars did two decades ago.
 
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