June 16, 2008

Honda Announces First Hydrogen Car For Commercial Production

Honda has become the first car manufacturer to rollout its line of zero-emission, hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars for commercial production.

The Japanese car manufacturer said its new FCX Clarity, which runs on electricity produced by combining hydrogen with oxygen, will offer three times the fuel efficiency than a gas-powered car.

The FCX Clarity is based on Honda's first-generation hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, the FCX concept car. Honda created about 34 of the concept cars, of which 10 are still in use.

Honda plans to produce 200 of the cars over the next three years. The first five customers, including actress Jamie Lee Curtis, are all based in southern California, because of the proximity of hydrogen fueling stations.

This seemingly small production may be the result of the lack of hydrogen fueling stations as well as the argument from some critics who say that hydrogen is expensive to produce and the most common way to produce it is from fossil fuels.

Even environmental analysis has shown that he overall carbon dioxide emissions from hydrogen-powered cars can be higher than that from unleaded or diesel-powered vehicles.

The car will initially be available for lease rather than purchase in California, starting in July, and then in Japan later this year.

It is being built on the world's first dedicated production line for fuel-cell vehicles in Japan.

"This is an important day in the history of fuel-cell vehicle technology and a monumental step closer to the day when fuel-cell cars will be part of the mainstream," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda.

The cost of the car on a three-year lease will be $600 a month, Honda said.

Car manufacturers are being faced with increasing demand for more economical vehicles.

Toyota said it was struggling to keep up with demand because it was unable to make enough batteries for its hybrid Prius, which switches between fuel and electric motor.

"Hybrids are selling so well we are doing all we can to increase production," Toyota Motor Corp's executive vice president, Takeshi Uchiyamada said. "We need new lines."


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