Most companies trying to make news hate to compete with other headlines, but Honda has to be pretty happy to share space with an otherwise ominous headline today.
When better to unveil a new fuel-cell vehicle than when oil hits another record in futures trading?
That's what happened today. As oil nudged up toward $140 a barrel on the same day Honda unveiled its FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car.
The first five cars off the line will go to a couple A-listers: Movie producer Ron Yerxa, actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her filmmaker husband Christopher Guest; along with business owner Jim Salomon, actress Laura Harris and Jon Spallino, who has been leasing the FCX Clarity since 2005 and is described as "the world's first retail fuel cell vehicle customer."
Honda will also establish a network of dealerships that can service the new vehicles, in Southern California. Fueling it up could be more challenging, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plans for a "hydrogen highway" have been slow to materialize.
Honda isn't the first to announce a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle; it and Toyota both unveiled their first vehicles in 2002, and Volkswagen was the latest, when it unveiled its Tiguan Hymotion just days ago. But the confluence of news about record-high oil prices and natural disasters across the United States in the form of wildfires and floods gives Honda's unveiling a certain feeling of inevitability. This is the future, if we can just catch up to it.
"Auto companies can't explore the potential for fuel cell technology as the ultimate solution to our world's energy and environmental challenges by ourselves," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "Our customers are true pioneers and leaders in the effort to bring fuel cell technology to the marketplace."
The four-passenger sedan's motor runs on electricity generated by the fuel cell, and emits nothing but water vapor. Honda claims it can drive up to 280 miles and achieves 72 miles per kilogram of hydrogen.
Honda plans to sell about 200 of the cars in the first three years. No word on its sticker price.
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