It is a futuristic jellybean and the first commercially available hydrogen fuel-cell car (available only in California). The 2009 Honda FCX Clarity can do 280 miles on a tankful of hydrogen, and rides like a standard pertrol-driven saloon. The fuel-cell engine produces only water as its exhaust.
Virtually every car company is currently tinkering with hydrogen technology for eco-friendly reasons. In a world concerned about smog and global warming, hydrogen is seen, by many, as the ultimate clean fuel. Similar hydrogen-powered prototypes from other car makers include the fuel-cell Chevrolet Equinox, and the BMW Hydrogen-7, a internal combustion, hydrogen-fuelled car.
Honda plans to begin leasing the FCX for $600 a month, and not only to corporate fleets, but to everyday motorists. The fuel-cell jellybean is well equipped for safety, with six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, active headrests, and a radar-guided collision warning system.
An aerodynamic bullet, the FCX uses a conventional steel body, with a steel chassis and aluminum subframe, rather than costly, ultralight materials that could have been used. Despite this, the FCX has a range of 280 miles on a thankful of hydrogen; and can hold four kilograms of the stuff. Total mileage is an equated 68 miles per gallon (The EPA considers a kilogram of hydrogen equal to a gallon of gas.
Honda officials expect as many as 30 hydrogen refilling stations to be available next year. A kilogram should cost about $5, so the FCX may prove to be more affordable than similar sized gas-powered sedans.