Niedermayer goes green with zero-emissions vehicle

No Scott Niedermayer can't get all three of his hockey-playing sons and their equipment bags and sticks into his Honda FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle at the same time.

But then, that wasn't the reason the Anaheim Ducks' captain and four-time Stanley Cup-winner jumped at the chance to drive the zero emissions, hydrogen-powered car when Honda proposed it to him last year. And ever since taking the keys on Jan. 6, 2010, Niedermayer has been thrilled.

"I'm in it right now," he told during a recent telephone interview. "It gets me from A to B. And actually, it has some trunk space.

"No, I can't get the whole team in here. But I can get one of my sons, with his equipment bag, and my gear if I'm helping out on the ice."

More to the point, Niedermayer can get himself and a teammate or two to the Honda Center in style in his FCX Clarity for Ducks home games. And he can get his four boys to school and he and his wife, Lisa, can do all their daily errands and commuting. All while feeling so much better each time they climb behind the wheel.

That's because, while Niedermayer's new ride provides all the power, handling and amenities of any other sedan, it does so while spewing no emissions into the atmosphere. And ever since he and brother Rob of the New Jersey Devils were children growing up in idyllic Cranbrook, British Columbia, Niedermayer has had an appreciation for protecting the environment.

"I guess the answer, which I think is right, is growing up where we did -- small town British Columbia," Niedermayer said when asked how his interest in environmental issues developed. "What we filled our time with mainly was being outside -- either on moutain bikes or hiking or skiing or fishing or climbing a mountain.

"Then, in my travels as I played hockey and saw different parts of world, every summer I'd return home and I'd realize, 'Gee, this is a beautiful spot -- to be able to drink out of the lake or fish out of the stream. Not every place is like this.' So I became more and more interested.

"Plus, as an athlete, how do you treat yourself to be more healthy to perform? It all kind of connects."

Rather than just talk about going green, which he does with his Ducks teammates, Niedermayer takes action.

"I try to do a lot of the little things -- I'm always turning lights off when the kids leave them on," he said. "I had looked at solar panels for our roof, but I was told the orientation of our house was not right.

"But we put in a more efficient furnace. We put in more insulation. Just the little things you can do -- I bring my own bags to the grocery store. I enjoy eating natural foods, organic when possible, which I think is good for the person eating them as well as the planet."

And when it comes to personal transportation, Niedermayer opts for environmentally responsible when he can.

Honda's FCX Clarity produces electricity onboard from hydrogen via Honda's innovative V Flow fuel cell stack with water vapor as its only emission. It has a driving range of up to 240 miles and its fuel efficiency is three times that of a comparable, modern gasoline-powered automobile.

"The FCX Clarity demonstrates Honda's commitment to developing zero-emissions vehicles, and we believe that having drivers like Scott Niedermayer behind the wheel of a Honda FCX Clarity is a great way to reach out to a new audience of drivers," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda. "We hope that Scott's example of driving the FCX Clarity will inspire fans and other athletes to consider more environmentally responsible products."

Said Niedermayer: "I had a (Toyota) Prius before for four years and then Honda asked if I wanted to drive this one. The one thing: there are not a lot of places where I can fill up because it runs on hydrogen. But the one station near us is about a mile from my house."

Having taken it upon himself to talk to teammates and anybody who asks about his environmental interests, Niedermayer was encouraged to hear about the unveiling of NHL Green, the League-wide initiative that coordinates the many eco-friendly activities being pursued by Clubs and hockey fans and provides a high-profile platform from which awareness of environmental issues can be broadcast.

"I think there is a lot to learn," Niedermayer said. "Everything you do has an effect on something on this planet. And everybody is still learning. Even the experts learn new things.

"Awareness is the first and most important step and that's something that the NHL obviously can affect in a significant way."