Apr 9, 2009 | 7
FuelMaker, the Honda-owned, Canada-based manufacturer of natural gas fueling systems for vehicles, went belly-up last week. The company made the only residential natural gas refueling product (called Phill) in the world.
Fortunately for vehicle owners, Honda plans to sell the company’s assets and intellectual property, meaning FuelMaker products, albeit under a different name, are likely to remain available, says Alicia Milner, president of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance.
FuelMaker was born of automakers’ desire to address the public’s urge to break or at least lessen its addiction to fossil fuels. Car companies have increasingly turned to batteries, hydrogen, and solar power to energize new generations of vehicles. Less conspicuous in this shift to cleaner fuels has been natural gas, far cleaner burning than gasoline, and already the leading alternative fuel source for U.S. commercial fleets, powering about 10 percent of the mass transit buses in the U.S. and 5 percent of those in Canada, Milner says. The monthly consumption of natural gas by domestic vehicles has quadrupled the last decade as more vehicles have taken to the streets, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Sep 7, 2008 | 6
In advance of the Paris International Auto Show in early October, Honda has released photos of its new entry-level hybrid car, which the press has (naturally) labeled the “Prius-fighter.” Reports indicate the Insight, a five-door family hatchback that is scheduled to hit dealership floors worldwide next year, is to be priced around $18,000, some $3,000 less than Toyota’s vaunted Prius gasoline-electric hybrid.
The new Insight will be powered by the latest iteration of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid technology, which will be significantly cheaper than its current systems, according to press reports. The IMA is a parallel hybrid system with an electric motor mounted between the engine and transmission to act as a starter motor, engine balancer and traction motor assist. The new, more cost-efficient powertrain accounts for the low price tag, making it potentially the most affordable hybrid model on the 2009 market.
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