Honda’s new zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell car rolled off a Japanese production line on Monday. The FCX Clarity, which runs on hydrogen and electricity, emits only water and none of the gases believed to induce global warming. It is also two times more energy efficient than a gas-electric hybrid and three times that of a standard gasoline-powered car.
Honda expects to lease out a few dozen units this year and about 200 units within a year. In California, a three-year lease will run US$600 a month, which includes maintenance and collision coverage.
The biggest obstacles standing in the way of wider adoption of fuel cell vehicles are cost and the dearth of hydrogen fuel stations. For the Clarity’s release in California, Honda said it received 50,000 applications through its website but could only consider those living near stations in Torrance, Santa Monica and Irvine.
Although Honda Motor Co. was the first Japanese automaker to launch a gas-electric hybrid vehicle in the U.S. in 1999, it has been outpaced by the dominance of Toyota’s popular Prius.
The FCX Clarity is part of Honda’s plan to compete keep pace with rivals in green technology. It also plans to launch a gas-electric hybrid-only model, as well as hybrid versions of the Civic, the sporty CR-Z and Fit subcompact.