By on March 10, 2016

Honda FCX Clarity At Shell Hydrogen Fuel Pump

The world needs to be saved, but who wants to spend more money doing it?

That, cash lands on Takata-plagued dealers, Tesla takes to the track, BMW wants you in and out fast, and Volkswagen dreams of slaying the Prius … after the break!

Honda FCX Clarity

Hydrogen for the teeming masses

By teaming up with General Motors on production and procurement, Honda is hoping to lower the price of its fuel cell vehicle to something more palatable to eco-conscious consumers.

As it embarks on its hydrogen-powered journey, Honda president Takahiro Hachigo wants the cost of its fuel cell-powered Clarity to be no more than that of a boring old hybrid, Bloomberg reports:

Honda is beginning sales of the 7.66 million yen ($67,000) Clarity to local governments and businesses in Japan before offering the car to retail customers. Honda, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. are championing fuel cell vehicles to eliminate tailpipe emissions while offering range and refueling times similar to internal-combustion engines. Their drawbacks include higher costs and the lack of hydrogen stations …

Honda plans to start leasing the Clarity in California before the end of the year for less than $500 per month and will sell the car for about $60,000. Europe deliveries also are scheduled to begin by the end of 2016.

Honda hopes to reach hybrid-hydrogen price parity by 2025, even if it means hopping into bed with the Americans to make it happen.

Takata Agua Prieta Mexico Facility

Cash cushion for airbag-plagued dealers

Swaths of unsold vehicles, a slow repair process and other Takata-inspired woes are hitting Honda and Acura dealerships right in the wallet, so daddy’s come calling with some cash.

Financial assistance from American Honda Motor Company comes to dealers this month to offset losses caused by new and used vehicles that can’t be sold, according to Automotive News:

Honda informed dealers that the reimbursement plan will go into effect the week of March 28. But it has not finalized the claim process, according to the notice.

Multiple automakers are sorting through a safety recall of more than 29 million potentially faulty airbag inflators built by Takata.

In January, American Honda ordered a stop-sale on 1.7 million new and used cars and light trucks, including the popular CR-V crossover, from model years 2007-2015.

Replacement components for affected vehicles won’t show up at dealerships until this summer, making the reimbursement program a necessity, Honda claims.

Ten deaths have so far been linked to the shrapnel-spraying airbags.

Tesla Model S Burnout

An army of one

The Tesla Model S is finally being given a chance to compete on the track, and it will have to tackle a tough challenger — itself.

The Electric GT World Series has been created to add some oomph to the fledgling electric motorsports scene, but the only model that currently fits the bill is the Model S, according to Transport Evolved (via Green Car Reports):

All 10 teams will use the Model S P85+, one of two highest-performance versions until the recent production start of the P90D, with its “Ludicrous” mode.

Organizers say they prefer the rear-wheel-drive version, rather than the P85D with all-wheel drive, because RWD is both more traditional for track racing and mechanically simpler and easier to repair.

Though not official yet, the Electric GT World Series has support from the Fédération Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA).

Teams would be allowed to modify the steering, suspension, brakes and cooling system of their Model S, as well as strip it of excess weight.

BMW dealership

Get you in, get you out

BMW wants your butt planted in a new Bimmer as fast as humanly possible, and wants you to deal with as few people as possible along the way.

Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, explained how it plans to overhaul its retail strategy in the coming years in a sit-down with Automotive News Europe:

Given the customers’ desire to buy from stock and drive away, U.S. dealers tend to stock 300 to 400 cars in inventory. Currently it can take several hours from decision to delivery, but we want to cut that down to 45 minutes, which means really reducing all the non-value-added processes within that: financing, pre-delivery inspection — all that has to get a lot leaner. We need to be asking whether we really need nine signatures on a financial services document any more – quite possibly not. We still have a way to go to achieve 45 minutes, but we’re making good steps toward it.

Having loaner cars always on hand, establishing a better urban dealer presence and booting customers from the aftersales process are other planks in BMW’s strategy.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Rear

Herbert Diess has the electric feel

A standalone plug-in hybrid model that returns outstanding mileage is needed in the Volkswagen stable by 2020 if the embattled automaker wants to reinvent itself and compete with the Toyota Prius.

Development of the new hybrid model is part of Volkswagen’s accelerated electric vehicle strategy, and creating a common platform for all of its hybrid models is key, Volkswagen’s brand chief Herbert Diess told Auto Express:

“If you look further, then it’s probably worthwhile thinking of an entirely new architecture because then you can let go of the technical components you put in the car because of the combustion engine,” said Diess. “You gain a lot of space in the interior, for instance.

“For a full EV, you get one size bigger on the interior for the exterior dimensions, so in the length of a Golf you get the interior of a Passat.”

Volkswagen’s Prius-fighter could go by the name XL3, and will likely make good use of existing parts. The vehicle would serve as a stepping stone towards future fully-electric models.

[Image: Jetta Hybrid, © 2013 Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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34 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Honda Wants a Cheaper Future, Cash for Airbag Woes, and Tesla Races Itself...”

  • avatar

    #1 Earth continues to take in new matter (Elements) as it sweeps up its orbit and is bombarded with meteorites.

    #2 Earth will continue to take in energy from the Sun over the next 4.5 Billion years – and that extraterrestrial material will continue to be integrated into the Earth’s processes (Rock Cycle, Water Cycle, etc)

    That material will even go into making future people…

    Even meteorites are 5% water.

    Conclusion – THE EARTH IS GROWING

    CO2 emissions will continue to increase simply due to the increasing populations on Earth, as well as the increased energy requirements and use. It is inevitable.

    The Earth will hold more energy than it radiates away.

    Even reducing the amount of fossil fuels released by ICE – you still won’t be able to reduce the amount of energy being used by the population. Meat production and transportation is energy intensive.

    • 0 avatar


      You may want to hold your breath–the earth is losing atmosphere, roughly 50,000 tons annually. Of course, it will be gone around the same time the sun goes supernova, so keep driving that HEMI.

      I’ll let others with more patience explain the difference between mass and energy, but thanks for starting off so on topic.

      • 0 avatar



        It’s gravitational pull is ONLY increasing (since mass is steadily increasing)

        Even if Global Warming were true WHICH IT IS NOT (Lord Kelvin) the CO2 atmosphere would be heavier than the O2 / N atmosphere…

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Mama

          BTSR: we’re losing atmosphere, albeit slower than Mars, thanks to an ionizing solar wind. Why are you so anti-science?

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic


      Between renewables and nuclear, there are a number of ways you can generate energy without burning hydrocarbons. You can also increase energy efficiency. Furthermore, the Earth’s population growth is projected to level off by mid-century.

      I’m not as fatalistic about CO2 as you are.

      • 0 avatar

        Explain to me how you figured out a way to get around fossil fuels for the very basis of your life?



        My food comes from animals. Animals that ate plants. Plants.

        Propane to cook. Butane to cook. Methane to cook. Coal to cook.

        • 0 avatar
          healthy skeptic

          Hydrocarbons that form the basis for my body is a bit different than burning them for energy. As for the CO2 produced by my cellular respiration, the planet is easily set up to recycle all that I and my fellow 7 billion human beings will produce. It’s the CO2 formed by industrialized energy production that’s a problem. Hence renewable and nuclear.

          Also, you can use electricity to cook. There’s the classic way of using electrical heating elements, and the new induction method seems pretty cool.

          • 0 avatar

            BTSR, have you been drinking from the hose at the gas station? I know gas is cheap, but it might mess with your ability to think. You’re already spouting nonsense every time the topic of climate change comes up.

          • 0 avatar
            Piston Slap Yo Mama

            BTSR is epic in his devotion to pseudoscience and global warming denial, though he’s lately seen the light in regards to cars that don’t run on petrified dinosaurs, i.e. Teslas. His screeds against hybrid and EV tech were enormously … wrong, but he’d never admit it now.
            BTW, commenting on one of his FIRST POST comments only encourages him, so my bad.

        • 0 avatar
          Alex Mackinnon

          I’m pretty sure you mostly eat lead paint chips.

          The earth loses almost all the helium in it’s atmosphere, and portions of lighter gases. Mass also goes away during fission, natural radiation and during fusion.

          Also, FYI you can cook things with a big magnifying glass. Look up “Solar BBQ” on youtube.

    • 0 avatar

      The solar wind strips away atmosphere. The earth is partially protected by its magnetic field. Mars doesn’t have a magnetic field which is why it has lost almost all of its atmosphere. Mass and energy coming from space are negligible compared to electromagnetic radiation from the sun.

      The sun won’t go supernova. It’s not big enough. Eventually, it will go nova and expand into a red giant, incinerating and then swallowing the earth. Since that won’t occur during my lifetime, I’m not worried about it.

      Hydrogen can be a substitute for fossil fuels. One advantage over electric batteries is shorter refueling time. Problems with hydrogen are low energy density and finding a way to produce it that doesn’t leave CO2 as a byproduct. My preference would be solar power followed by nuclear.

      • 0 avatar

        @Kendahl One advantage over electric batteries is shorter refueling time.

        That myth needs to die. Other than the fact that EVs offer home and workplace fueling so a visit to a public fueling station can be a rare occasion (it is for me), what’s always ignored is the recovery time for hydrogen filling stations. You’re fine if you’re first or second in line, but 3rd, or even worse, 5th, you’re totally screwed. Filling a car at 10,000 psi and maintaining the pumps isn’t an easy thing.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks to this bizzare post and its “CONCLUSION!!!”, I learned something new today. For all those who don’t “science from the gut” and want to know the real numbers here you go:

      The Earth collects about 40k tons (metric) of dust/year from space
      It loses about 100k tons/year of gas into space (mainly H)
      It gains about 160 tons/year of mass energy from global warming

      That’s a net loss of about 50-60k tons/year of mass

      Earth’s total mass is 5.97 x 10^24kg. That is this many tons: 5970000000000000000000. 16 orders of magnitude greater than the annual variance. Imagine your bank account increasing by 3 orders of magnitude and you can begin to understand the insignificance of mass variance year-year.

      Now about the tiny amount of mass contributed by global warming. That’s mass energy. To get the energy we can thank Einstein with the famous E=MC^2 which shows us 160 tons of mass means 1.4 x 10^22 Joules of energy. That’s about 25 times MORE energy than the entire human population consumes in a year.

      Anyway, the OP’s post contains many misconceptions in terms of frames of references, balanced/closed systems, etc and the frequency of ALL CAPS suggests than any attempts would be futile so I’ll leave that as an exercise for someone else. If you’re confused about global warming, start with making sure you know what the greenhouse effect is (note: CO2 traps sunlight is NOT the correct answer). Hope someone else learns something too!

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic


        Thanks for the numbers. I had a feeling the annual variance was dwarfed by the Earth’s overall mass by many orders of magnitude, but was too lazy to go digging up the figures.

    • 0 avatar

      I usually don’t reply to the Trolly underbelly of the site, but hey, it’s a light news day.

      Hydrocarbons produce smog. Smog has a ton of negative health implications, see most of Asia, but also the smog related deaths over here in NA regularly. Of course it mostly affects the sick and infirm which probably aren’t “your people”, nor are non-truck-buyng americans, so I understand why this has zero influence on your all-caps BURN MOAR DINOSAURS comments.

      I know this article won’t interest you because the publication has the word “Science” in it, but this has been discussed for some time:

      overall planet mass can increase while atmosphere decreases, so this shouldn’t really be a surprise.

      I’d rather not drive a vehicle who’s exhaust can kill me, or others, or stain buildings, or otherwise cause negative effects. I’m lucky enough to live somewhere where I can choose my method of power generation, to close the loop on that front. And it has nothing to do with what’s going to happen in a million years time.

      but please, continue to rail against me and others who think it’s our part to reduce the effects we have on others as deluded. It’s makes for fun reading most of the time, and I have no doubt it drives up your Youtube views as well – I can’t fault you for saying what you have to to make more money! Have at it. :D

  • avatar

    “Currently it can take several hours from decision to delivery”

    This was the worst part about leasing my Sonata. Wars have been started on less notice and with fewer signatures. The only thing worse than setting up a lease? Setting up a cell phone contract. I acquired a house and started a business with less hassle than getting a Galaxy Note 4; it’s truly remarkable – if for no other reason than that staffing costs for AT&T must have been at least $200 for the time it took me to buy my damn phone!

  • avatar

    To me, the “lean time” approach by BMW would signify less willingness on the dealer’s part to haggle. Haggling takes too much time.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      Allowing BMW (and every other manufacturer) to do direct sales might help.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m fairly certain the time they are talking about here is _after_ a deal has been reached. So, the time from you and your salesman coming to an agreement to you driving out the door, and all the signatures it entails, is the time they’re looking to streamline.

      • 0 avatar

        Ah ha, okay. A summary inclusive “index of terms” sheet with one signature on it would work wonders.

      • 0 avatar

        If that took 20 minutes for my latest BMW, I would be surprised. Though since I did Euro Delivery, I did get to do it three times. Once to pay for the car and sign all the slightly scary German documents that authorize BMW to register and insure it, again to actually take delivery in Munich, and finally to re-deliver in the US. Probably 20, 10, and 10 minutes, total. Similar times for my previous BMW.

        Settling on a price and putting in my order took a 20 minute face-to-face meeting, then a few e-mails back-and-forth. With a few more due to the timing resulting in my ordering a 2016 instead of a 2015, IMHO, if it is taking hours to buy a car, then somebody is doing something really, really, wrong.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Hydrogen has so many drawbacks I can’t believe the mfrs continue to pursue them. Even if a FCEV was available today at price parity with other cars, I couldn’t own one because the closest filling station is 1500 miles away.

    What a joke. I predict the end of fuel cell cars over the next 5 years. The energy equation, cost, and infrastructure are all out of whack, and will never converge.

    • 0 avatar

      Also, note the chemical/mechanical inefficiencies of converting energy INTO compressed hydrogen. Hydrogen is merely an energy carrier, not an energy source. The only way I can see hydrogen fuel cells being feasible is if nuclear fusion where ever to become an unlimited energy source. That might happen, but it’s been “about 20 or 30 years off” for the last 50 years.

      • 0 avatar

        How well will these pumping stations be maintained? Will they save money by sourcing their parts from China. Pumping 10,000 psi of flammable gas into your car with a pump and storage sourced from China and maintained by your local Quickee Mart. Good luck with that.

    • 0 avatar

      I still don’t understand how the idea even got this far. Maybe 20 years ago it seemed smart because battery technology was so inferior to what we have today. Was it just momentum of projects already underway that has kept it alive?

      Anyone with a basic understanding of thermodynamics and physics can understand why the efficiency will never make sense given the trouble with storing, producing, and distributing hydrogen gas.

  • avatar

    I’ve seen a couple of Tesla track videos and they all start to run out of juice after 2 laps. I’ll watch the first race just to see how this works out.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex Mackinnon

      Heat soak is the issue. The batteries warm up too fast and it goes into limp mode. Should be reasonably simple to fix eventually, but I think range is a bigger issue for now.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I will say that my local BMW dealer has lovely service. It’s not quite as good as Lexus, but it’s good.

    • 0 avatar

      Mine too.

      I have needed to visit them much less than you did, thankfully. :-) Three warranty issues on the ’11 328!, all but one handled as part of the routine servicing. Shorted seat relay, worn door gasket, leaky headlight washer in five years and 40K. Seat relay was the only non-scheduled visit.

      No issues at all with the M235i so far. Other than I am probably going to get a walloping ticket in it at some point.

  • avatar

    Am I the only one that thinks having the picture above the heading is confusing? My suggestion is heading, then picture, then text. Just my opinion anyway, maybe everyone else is fine with it as is.

  • avatar

    What is BMW trying to solve with a better urban dealer presence?
    How do they reconcile the need to have hundreds of cars on the lot so customers can pick one and drive away with the lack of space in urban areas?
    What does a test drive in an urban area accomplish? Testing the stop/start system in gridlock?

  • avatar

    Takata airbags. Hmmm.

    After smugly driving along for years in my Subaru, far removed from the madding crowds trying to get new airbags for their Hondas, some for the second time, I was so happy with my choice.

    But lo, what is this? A letter from Subaru Canada arrived yesterday. Apparently, after four years of getting the office temps slaving away checking the records sent by camel train from Lafayette IN, to Toronto, and the requisite quarantine period at the border for strange animals, Subaru has discovered from their voluminous records and near-instant information retrieval system that my 2008 Legacy has a Takata passenger side front airbag!

    I am advised that it may blow up any time, including during an actual accident, and may shower metal shards that could maim or kill. Thus, I MUST NOT CARRY A FRONT PASSENGER until the airbag is replaced, a process taking only 40 minutes.

    How these metal shards know how to aim themselves to puncture only the front passenger is not explained.

    UNFORTUNATELY, Subaru Canada advises me, they DON’T HAVE any airbags with which to replace mine, none, not a single one in stock. And furthermore, they don’t know when they will have them. When they do get some, I will be advised by letter to hie me down to the dealer and swap out the offending part.

    Excellent. I am impressed.

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