New Car Shows Honda Deadly Serious About Hydrogen

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. makes it clear that despite widespread skepticism about the future of hydrogen as a fuel, it is seriously pursuing hydrogen-powered fuel cells as the ultimate powertrain solution. The Japanese auto maker unveils a sleek new fuel-cell-powered car at November's Los Angeles Auto Show that it plans to market in limited numbers beginning next summer. The FCX Clarity has sleek looks

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. makes it clear that despite widespread skepticism about the future of hydrogen as a fuel, it is seriously pursuing hydrogen-powered fuel cells as the ultimate powertrain solution.

The Japanese auto maker unveils a sleek new fuel-cell-powered car at November's Los Angeles Auto Show that it plans to market in limited numbers beginning next summer. The FCX Clarity has sleek looks and a boatload of improvements compared with its predecessor.

Honda isn't talking about how many vehicles will be leased yet, and full details of the program will be set closer to launch, but current plans call for a 3-year lease term for $600 per month that will include maintenance, collision insurance and virtually no extraordinary measures to accommodate the advanced powertrain.

In other words, a van full of white-coated engineers and technicians will not be following the vehicles wherever they go, or be making regular visits to the homes of lessees. When the car requires periodic maintenance, customers simply will schedule a visit with their local dealer, Honda says. The vehicle then will be transported to a special fuel-cell service facility located in the Los Angeles area and subsequently returned to the dealer.

Rather than focusing on cost, refueling infrastructure, durability and other issues that still pose major challenges to hydrogen as a fuel, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. President and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura urges doubters to focus on how far Honda has come in its development of fuel-cell powertrains.

The FCX Clarity's fuel-cell stack is one-fifth the original size, he says, and has half the number of parts. The new model also can operate in extremely cold temperatures, down to -22° F (-30° C), Honda says.

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