Monday, June 16, 2008

Wave of the future?

I just found this story online and thought it interesting enough to repost, replete with pictures.

Thanks for tuning in...

Honda makes fuel-cell car
Mon Jun 16, 2008 12:41pm BST

TOCHIGI, Japan (Reuters) - Honda kicked off production on Monday of its newest fuel-cell car, as the car-maker gears up for the battle to dominate the market for next-generation vehicles.

Honda's FCX Clarity, a sporty-looking fuel-cell saloon, came off the production line in Tochigi, north of Tokyo. The assembly line is Honda's first to be dedicated to building fuel-cell vehicles.

The FCX Clarity will be sold through a newly established fuel-cell vehicle dealership network in the United States from July, Honda said. In Japan, sales are slated to start in autumn.

The car-maker is targeting lease sales of about 200 FCX Clarity cars in the first three years in the two countries combined.

"Fuel-cell vehicles, which don't use fossil fuels and don't produce carbon dioxide, are necessary for the environment. We would like to make them more popular," Honda Chief Executive Takeo Fukui told reporters.

Fuel-cell vehicles are widely considered the ultimate longer-term alternative to today's conventional cars as they run on an inexhaustible and cheaper source of fuel -- hydrogen, have no harmful exhaust emissions, and do not compromise driving performance.

The main hurdles for their proliferation are a lack of fuelling stations and the high cost of development.

Among the first five customers for the FCX Clarity are actress Jamie Lee Curtis and U.S. filmmaker Christopher Guest, Honda said.

The vehicle, which uses a lithium-ion battery, can run 620 km (385 miles) on a single fuelling as measured under Japan's fuel efficiency test method, and has a top speed of 160 km per hour (99 mph).

Among car-makers, Honda and Toyota Motor Corp. were the world's first to put a fuel-cell vehicle on the road in December 2002, and have since been in a tight race to prepare them for mass-commercialisation.

Toyota said earlier this month that it has developed an advanced fuel-cell vehicle that can run for 830 km on a single tank of hydrogen.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp has said it would bring its i-MiEV rechargeable electric minicar to market in Japan next year, while plans are also underway to begin fleet testing at some U.S. power companies as early as this autumn.

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