My daughter, who is a senior in high school, showed me a news item today.Honda has announced two major developments in automotive technology with devastating implications for both GM and Ford in the coming years.Honda says that it has developed a diesel engine which meets all California standards for emissions including Nox.And in the other part of the announcement, it has announced the development of a fuel cell powered automobile in which the fuel cell is a small package so that it does not occupy a large amount of space.The car has a range close to 300 miles.
Both of thes etechnologies are being readied for commercialization and we should see cars with these on the streets as early as 2008.
Consider the implications of these technolgies.The diesel, in one fell swopp can increase gas mileage by 30%.When married to a hybrid power train it could be well over 50% over our current gasoline engines.It would also stretch our gasoline reserves because diesel fuel is not merely cheaper, it also uses up a larger fraction of the crude.
The other technology, Fuel Cell has been put on the back burner by many auto companies,simply because of the bulkiness of the “reformer” that is needed to breakdown natural gas to hydrogen and carbon monoxide.If, as the announcement says, Honda has managed to produce a compact reformer, it is a major milestone.
Each of this news item has the potential of burying GM and Ford as they flounder in the many self inflicted problems of the past thirty odd years.
And what does this say to young people like my daughter searching for a place to make their contributions?
I told my daughter to pack up her bags and go to Tokyo.