"I would absolutely love to have one in Australia," Honda Australia senior director Lindsay Smalley says. "We are working towards making that happen." Smalley believes the need to have a real world example of future technology — presently only on show in Japan and America—available for key groups to touch and experience can not be overestimated.
"To have a Clarity in Australia would be an exceptionally powerful statement of direction for Honda and would really reinforce Honda's position on providing leadership in the industry," Smalley says. "If we could get it we would have special interest groups, journalists, governments drive it. I would love to be able to compete in the solar challenge in a special category — an event like that would really maximise the effect."
Part of the strategy would be to use a Clarity to talk to governments about alternative fuel strategies — not just fuel cells. "We would also use it as a vehicle to talk to governments about broadening Australia's thinking on fuel and infrastructure. At the moment the discussion on electric vehicles is great but really there is zero discussion on natural gas and that is another opportunity not being taken.
"The time to be talking about this now, not in the long term. If the cars are ready and the infrastructure is not there ... I am sure there are other importers who are heading down the hydrogen path, whether that is fuel cells or hydrogen as a fuel in internal combustion engines. At the moment the government only has ears for the local manufacturers, and that is understandable given the situation with jobs. It is difficult to get any government to look too far down the track but there are visionaries on both sides of government and I am sure we will see a greater pressure not to maintain our reliance on brown coal, black coal and oil."
One thing Smalley is adamant on is that any hydrogen used to fuel the Clarity will have impeccable green credentials — even if that means importing an expensive solar-powered hydrogen plant. "We have done a lot of investigation into it and there is plenty of hydrogen available (in Australia) but it is not green hydrogen.
"The only way we could do that would be to bring out a solar hydrogen plant. They are available but they are about $2 million. "Possibly we could borrow one for a period of time ..."
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