Belleville, Michigan - To celebrate Earth Day, we drove the environmentally friendly Honda FCX (experimental fuel-cell vehicle)--to the future. It was a short trip, because the future was a group of 100 or so seventh-graders at the local middle school. Given that these twelve-year-olds will inherit the earth and its transportation issues, who better to experience the first EPA-certified car that runs on hydrogen and exhales water vapor?
Our science class show-and-tell began with facts. The 107-hp electric motor draws current from a fuel cell that combines hydrogen and oxygen in an electrochemical reaction. Two tanks carry 8.4 pounds of fuel, enough for 190 miles, while an ultracapacitor stores extra energy for acceleration. But what most impressed our audience was the news that Ms. Malacek's lucky students were about to be among the first 1000 citizens to ride in a fuel-cell-powered vehicle.
They were impressed with the trivially easy starting procedure and the nearly silent, surprisingly energetic acceleration around the school parking lot. The animated instrument cluster and the FCX's ease of recouping energy during braking generated high praise and a barrage of questions: How much? How soon? Will leather seats and air suspension be available? What's up with that puddle under the tailpipe?
After classes, we clocked 0-to-60-mph acceleration at 13.5 seconds and verified Honda's 93-mph top-speed claim. Clearly, this Honda eclipses the notion that fuel-cell cars are souped-up golf carts suitable only for tree huggers and tech geeks. When it's ready for sale, seventh-graders--such as Connor Vandivier, who penned the appreciative poetry below--will be ready.
The hydrogen car was really great.
It seems like a great gadget for a date.
It looked awesome, it was really cool.
It made the gas cars look like fools.
They're way better than the cars that are German.
Thank you, thank you, Mr. Sherman.