• May 21st 2008 at 12:46PM
  • 15
Honda has just announced details of the leasing program for the new FCX Clarity fuel cell car that was unveiled at the LA Auto Show last November. The Clarity will be the first series "production" fuel cell vehicle available for lease to retail customers and the first examples will be delivered in July of this year. American Honda expects to lease about 200 Claritys during the first three years of the program. Right now, Honda is filtering through the 50,000 people that have shown interest in the lease program. The majority of those people who will be ruled ineligible because they don't live within range of a hydrogen filling station in the Los Angeles area.

The first batch of lessees will be announced on June 16 when the first Clarity rolls off the assembly line in Japan. The leases will be three year terms at $600/month which includes the insurance for the car. To qualify for a lease, potential customers will have to go through a multi step process that evaluates where they live and drive, and whether they have the financial means to pay for the car. When we talked to Honda's Stephen Ellis a few months ago, the retail price of hydrogen in the LA area was about $5/kg (equivalent to about 1 gallon of gas). The Clarity has a range of 270 miles and gets the equivalent of about 68mpg for gasoline. The full press release with all the details is after the jump.

All photos ©2007 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

Press Release:

Honda Announces FCX Clarity Business Plan and Commencement of Customer Selection Process

05/20/2008 - TORRANCE, Calif. -

Honda plans to deliver about 200 FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles to customers in the first three years of production, with leases beginning in July, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today. The lease program marks the world's first large-scale retail initiative for fuel cell vehicle technology, and Honda has begun the process of identifying customers from a group of over 50,000 individuals who have expressed interest in the FCX Clarity on the company's website.

Honda will announce its first customers when the first FCX Clarity rolls off the production line at a ceremony on June 16, 2008 in Japan, where Honda will also showcase the world's first dedicated fuel cell vehicle production facility. Additionally, Honda will announce further plans for involvement by Honda dealerships in the U.S., as well as future customer care and customer qualification initiatives.

"Our customers for the current generation FCX have played an important role in our advancement of Honda fuel cell vehicle technology," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "The first FCX Clarity customers represent the early adopters who will play a critical role in the mainstreaming of fuel cell cars.

"We remain firmly convinced that the hydrogen-powered fuel cell car represents one of the best long-term solutions to the world's growing environmental and energy concerns," added Mendel. "With the launch of the FCX Clarity lease program, we will begin making fuel cell vehicles a market reality allowing customers to participate in creating a cleaner and more sustainable transportation future."

The FCX Clarity launch began in October 2005 with the unveiling of the next-generation FCX Concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show, which was followed in November 2007 by the debut of the FCX Clarity production model at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where the company announced plans to begin leasing vehicles to customers in the U.S. Initially, the program will be based on a 3-year lease term with a price of $600 per month and will be targeted at consumers in Southern California.

Customer selection process
Honda expects to lease several dozen FCX Clarity models per year in the U.S. and Japan to reach the total of about 200 units in the first three years. Since its Tokyo concept debut, Honda has received requests from more than 50,000 individuals who have indicated their interest in receiving further updates about the vehicle and about being considered as future customers of Honda fuel cell technology. The company is now working to narrow the list through a four-step customer qualification process:

  • Step 1 -- Based on respondents' residential location, the list of potential customers has been narrowed to approximately 500 people living in very close proximity to publicly-accessible hydrogen fueling stations, including planned or existing stations in Santa Monica, Torrance and Irvine.
  • Step 2 -- Customers meeting the geographical criteria will receive an e-mail prompting them to take a customer selection survey if they are serious about wanting to lease an FCX Clarity.
  • Step 3 - The survey will qualify customers based on driving patterns, vehicle needs, vehicle storage and financial criteria.
  • Step 4 - Customers qualify for the next steps, including an interview with American Honda.

Everyone who has expressed an interest in the FCX Clarity will be kept abreast of new developments via the FCX Clarity web site and by e-mail communications. All interested prospects' information will be retained for future consideration.

About the FCX Clarity
The FCX Clarity is a next-generation, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle. Propelled by an electric motor that runs on electricity generated in the fuel cell, its only emission is water, and its fuel efficiency is three times that of a modern gasoline-powered automobile.

Based on the entirely-new Honda V Flow fuel cell platform, and powered by a highly compact, efficient and powerful new Honda V Flow fuel cell stack, the FCX Clarity marks the significant progress Honda continues to make in advancing the real-world performance and appeal of the fuel cell car. Significant advances over Honda's previous generation FCX include:

  • an advanced new four-passenger sedan design
  • a greater than 30 percent increase in driving range to 270 miles1
  • a 20 percent increase in fuel economy to 68mpg2
  • a 48 percent increase in fuel cell stack power density
  • a 40 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter new lithium-ion battery pack

Honda is responsible for the development of the world's first fuel cell car to be certified for regular commercial use by the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board; the first commercial lease of a fuel cell car to a fleet customer; and the first individual retail customer for a fuel cell vehicle.

Honda and the Environment
Based on its philosophy of being a company "society want to exist", Honda has been a leader in the development of cleaner and more fuel efficient products for more than thirty years, beginning in 1975 with the introduction of the Civic CVCC, the first vehicle to meet U.S. Clean Air Act exhaust emissions standards without a catalyst. Honda introduced the world's first Low (LEV), Ultra-Low (ULEV) and Super Ultra-Low (SULEV) emissions gasoline vehicles, and America's first low emission gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, the Honda Insight, in December 1999. The company has been recognized four consecutive times as America's "greenest automaker" by the Union of Concerned Scientists, most recently in 2007, and has maintained the highest automobile fleet-average fuel efficiency (lowest fleet-average CO2 emissions) of any U.S. automaker over the past 15 years3. The company is accelerating its efforts to introduce more fuel-efficient vehicles, including an all-new, more affordable hybrid Honda slated for introduction in 2009.

1 Preliminary Honda estimate, based on existing EPA range methodology
2 Honda estimate of EPA city-highway combined fuel economy rating for FCX Clarity
3 Average sales-weighted fuel consumption for 1992-2007 mid-model year passenger-car and light-truck fleets sold in the U.S. based on final CAFE reports through 2006 and 2007 mid-year reports

[Source: Honda]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I would think testing fuel cells in cars would be a great idea. It may not make a great propulsion system for cars but working on cars they need to be small and efficient and thats the hardest thing to do with a new technology. If it works in a car it should be a breeze to scale up and use them to generate electricity for industrial power, which pollutes more than transportation. Not to mention clean power from fuel cells can power an EV too.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Tim what is that based on? Even if it is true, if public funds are available for alternative fuel vehicles why shouldn't they use them?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wonder how much it cost them to build this car. $100,000? $300,000? $500,000? 1 Million Dollars???

      USA Today's best estimate is $300,000 minimum http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/reviews/healey/2007-11-22-fcx-clarity_N.htm
      • 7 Years Ago
      @eliot : Hydrogen is not a SOURCE of energy, but a CARRIER, exactly like electricity, hydrogen has to be produced (and compressed, and stored, and it evaporates etc... )

      Hydrogen could help for taxis, buses and delivery trucks until fast-charging EV is available for them.
      Hydrogen will be at best a waiting solution for more sophisticated EV's.

      gasoline : 4$/gal (USA), 9$/gal (Europe) and counting ...
      electricity : 1$/gal (equivalent)
      hydrogen : 5$/gal (equivalent)

      Then people will work the numbers and guess what they will choose ?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I like step 4 - "..interview with American Honda.."
      That's to make sure you're a celebrity.

      So steps 1-3 are just window-dressing. The real kicker is to get Hollywood celebs on the so-called "green" bandwagon of Honda so that Honda can look good. Let's face it, this whole FCX and its celebrity endorsements thing is just one big publicity stunt.

      Not criticizing Honda here (I drive a Civic ... and love it), but if it is just a "pat-me-on-the-back-for-being-greem" publicity stunt, there are better ways for Honda to get credit. Build a car that costs so much to produce that its $600/month lease payment is a joke? Get celebs to drive it? Come on. I can't believe Honda is willing to flush its money down the drain just to get some do-gooders to jump on board with them so they can all stand together "greenly" at a bunch of media events.

      Ask me? Go NATURAL GAS.

      That is what I want to see Honda get into. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). In my next post, I will explain why.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Okay, Natural Gas, here goes:
      * carbon monoxide emission reductions of 90 to 97 %
      * carbon dioxide emission reductions of 25 %
      * nitrogen oxide emission reductions of 35 to 60 %
      * other hydrocarbon emission reductions as much as 50 to 75 %
      * 250 years of supply
      * distribution network BETTER than that of gasoline.

      Let's dwell for a moment on that last one. How do you think gasoline gets to your pumps? Well, you know -- it's delivered by TRUCK. That's inefficient.

      Natural gas -- not only is there a distribution framework already in place (hello hydrogen?), but it's vastly more efficient than that of gasoline. Why?

      NO TRUCKS !!

      Natural gas is distributed throughout the United States by PIPELINE. Is gasoline? Not on your life. So all the global-warming models that already show that natural gas is more environmentally-friendly than gasoline don't even take into account the greater efficiency of distributing NG by pipeline, compared to distributing gasoline by truck.

      If people took that into account (they don't; I am the only person so far who has revealed this fact, the heightened efficiency of NG versus gasoline due to NG's pipeline distribution system versus gasoline's inefficient use of trucks for distribution), their jaws would drop in shock that we -- as a people -- are not using natural gas more and more as a fuel in our automobiles.

      Taxis. Yes, taxis. You know that many taxis in big cities now use Natural Gas. These guys know what they're doing. Know how to make money; and SAVE money. Could it be that taxi-drivers ("Hey Jim Ignatowski!") also know how to ...

      ... SAVE THE PLANET ??
        • 6 Years Ago
        Some very good points, and I'll add another:

        Natural gas is the only fossil fuel for which we also have a renewable source. Yep, that's right, using anaerobic bacteria that gobble up organic wastes and belch off almost pure natural gas Just a little purifying to remove sulfur, CO2, and water, and it's ready for use.
      • 7 Years Ago
      While they're in the process of destroying the environment and wasting energy with hydrogen, why not go all the way?

      * Contract comes written on paper made from wild Wollemi Pine
      * Upholstery made from 100% genuine clubbed baby seal
      * CO2 from release of creating each kilogram of hydrogen burned offset by shooting a black rhinoceros.
      * The following pigments and dyes are used in the pain t and interior: lead red, chrome orange, barium yellow, Scheele's green, antwerp blue, cobalt violet, and flake white.
      * Comes with certificate guaranteeing to use a minimum of three times as much well-to-wheel energy as an equivalent EV. Certificate also written on Wollemi Pine paper.
      * Fuel cells contain rare, very-destructive-to-extract precious metals... oh, wait, scratch that, that's already the case.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If it was their money, then fine. However I think that a LOT of their fuel cell research money was taken from taxpayers.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah I'm not sure what Honda sees in this fuel cell business. For the price of 200 fuel cell vehicles you can build A LOT of EVs, and there is every indication those EVs will be better for the environment until there is some new way to make hydrogen; not to mention it will be a lot cheaper to run too, as the energy equivalent of electricity to a gallon of gas is about $1.

      Maybe they fell for the same "fuel of the future" trap thinking it will really be the magic fuel that solves all our energy problem.

      That said, we have to keep in mind it's mostly their money going into this. I don't think that's a bad thing, because fuel cells might have a breakthrough someday. We can't have all the companies only develop in EVs because you never know which will come up on top in the end. I'm fine with this development in fuel cells as long as the companies don't use it as an excuse to not continue cleaning up their more conventional cars.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't see any problem with Honda experimenting with hydrogen fuel cells. It's their money, and based on their success in building and selling fuel efficient cars, I think they know what they are doing.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Fuel cells powering EVs? wow... might want to take another look at that chicken or the egg thing...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well i cant wait for these cars to take to the road and really get tested then we can begin to see is hydrogen is a worthy fuel source or not
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