Alternative Fuel Projects
2008 Honda FXV Clarity

Credit: Honda
Honda’s new hydrogen fuel cell powered car. For a few lucky leasees at $600/month, ins. included! 2007 LA Auto Show
2008 Honda FXV Clarity
The Zero-Emission Sedan of the Future. A Reality Today

Credit: Honda

The Zero-Emission Sedan of the Future. A Reality Today.

Credit: Honda

The most distinctive feature of the FCX Clarity—other than the fuel cell itself—is the streamlined layout made possible by its compact and efficient powertrain components.
The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen to make electricity. The electricity then powers the electric motor, which in turn propels the vehicle. Water is the only byproduct the FCX Clarity leaves behind.

Roll over the numbered steps to learn about each stage of the process.

  1. Hydrogen tank – Stores hydrogen
  2. V Flow fuel cell stack – Generates electricity
  3. Lithium-ion battery – Stores electricity
  4. Power Drive Unit (PDU) – Governs electrical flow
  5. Electric drive motor – Propels vehicle
See Honda pages for flash demo
Here Comes Hydrogen to Torrance

Credit: Honda
Honda's new fuel cell vehicle "FCX Clarity" is on display at the 
Torrance headquarters of American Honda Motor Co.

By Muhammed El-Hasan, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/16/2008 11:28:07 PM PDT

Scott Robinson Honda in Torrance and two other Southern California car dealerships will be among the world's first to offer leases on a zero-emission fuel cell vehicle that runs on hydrogen, the Japanese automaker said Monday.

The first commercial production model of the car, the FCX Clarity, rolled off a Honda assembly line in Japan on Monday. About 200 of the vehicles will be part of the milestone leasing program over the next three years in the United States and Japan.

Power Honda Costa Mesa and Honda of Santa Monica also will participate in the leasing program for the FCX Clarity.

"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," John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., the carmaker's North American headquarters, said in a statement.

Film producer Ron Yerxa will receive the first FCX Clarity in July, Honda said Monday. Honda announced four other leases that will go to Jamie Lee

Curtis and her filmmaker husband, Christopher Guest; business owner and car enthusiast Jim Salomon; actress Laura Harris; and Redondo Beach resident and business owner Jon Spallino.

Spallino is already the world's first retail fuel cell vehicle customer, and has been leasing an earlier generation FCX since 2005.

Spallino was in Japan to attend a ceremony for the FCX Clarity. An official at Scott Robinson Honda referred a reporter to Honda's corporate office in Torrance.

The FCX Clarity uses a fuel cell stack that generates a chemical reaction with hydrogen to create 100 kilowatts, enough to power about 20 homes. The vehicle's only byproduct is water.

The FCX Clarity sedan is sleeker, more powerful and more efficient that the earlier Honda model. It can travel 270 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, at a maximum speed of 100 mph. The car can travel at 72 miles per kilogram of hydrogen, which is equivalent to 74 mpg for a conventional internal-combustion vehicle.

The FCX Clarity's tank has a capacity for 4 kilograms of hydrogen. Retail hydrogen costs about $5 per kilogram.

"You're paying five bucks for hydrogen, but you're getting three times the regular mileage of a car," Honda spokesman Todd Mittleman said.

Honda chose Scott Robinson and the other two dealerships to participate in the lease program because they are near hydrogen fueling stations.

About 50,000 people have registered at Honda's Web site to qualify to lease the FCX Clarity. Honda has narrowed that list to about 500 people.

The carmaker will further whittle down the list using criteria such as driving patterns, financial resources and whether a person has a garage, Mittleman said.

New registrants to the Web site will not be included in the lease consideration process, although they will receive updates from Honda, Mittleman said.

The lease agreement requires a $600 monthly payment, which includes maintenance and collision coverage. Scott Robinson and the other two dealerships will handle maintenance and other work on the car.

"The $600 a month does not cover the cost of the car, as the lease is subsidized," Mittleman said. "The technology is there, but the cost isn't quite there yet, so the car is worth more than the lease reflects."

Honda did not say how much the current FCX Clarity is worth. But the earlier FCX model driven by Spallino was worth more than $1 million.

Last year, General Motors rolled out a fuel cell vehicle loan program that allowed motorists in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., to try one of 100 Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell cars for three months.

Unlike the GM program, Honda will lease the FCX Clarity for up to three years.

"This is the first mass appeal to consumers through a lease program," said Roy Kim, a spokesman for the California Fuel Cell Partnership, a Sacramento-based consortium of industry and government to promote hydrogen-powered vehicles. "These are huge steps in getting to that eventual commercial stage. So this is very important."

Of the state's 25 hydrogen fueling stations, 19 are located in Southern California, which makes the region a natural magnet for such consumer trials as the FCX Clarity lease program.

As the technology develops and more fueling stations open, hydrogen-powered vehicles will become much more prevalent, Kim said.

"Roughly, we see 2012 to 2017 as the entry point of commercial fuel cell vehicles," Kim said. "Pretty soon, they'll have the option of going into a dealership in California and being able to purchase a fuel cell vehicle if they choose to do that." 

SOURCE: Daily Breeze

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