While the rest of the auto world steams it up in Geneva halls, Honda's green contingent basked under the San Fernando Valley sun for a world first. Q'orianka Kilcher, who played Pocahontas in Terence Malick's 2005 film The New World, was handed the keys to her brand new Honda FCX, making her the first person in the world to get a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle as her first car.
After an earnest speech in which the 17-year-old award-winning actress pledged to lead by environmentally friendly example-and asked the assembled adults to please do the same-John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda, played the proud dad, handed Q'orianka the keys, and they took a 7-second spin together in the circular driveway of the Universal City Hilton.
Not the prettiest car in the world unless you like giant blue baby boots, Honda claims the FCX is "the world's most advanced production fuel cell vehicle" (third generation prototypes look much more tasty), which makes amends for slight styling deficiencies. Inside, the car seats four, has an in-dash CD player, climate control, a dashboard from Tron, and a Honda Satellite-Linked navigation system that displays the location for all existing hydrogen fueling station in the United States. The AC motor and Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell combine for 107 hp, 201 lb-ft of torque, and a 93-mph top speed over the car's 210-mile range.
Fifteen customers in three states also run FCXs, and, like them, Q'orianka doesn't own the car, she leases it. The privilege will subtract $500 per month from her film residuals for the next two years. She is the latest "retail" customer to test the FCX vehicle over the past five years. Most tests have been with fleets but a family from Southern California also drove a prototype for two years.
And it might have been the hours in the heat or too much of the catered lunch afterward, but as we were leaving we could swear we heard her brother asking to borrow the FCX for a date on Friday night.
[Source: reader submission by Jonathan Ramsey, we also have Honda's full press release after the break]
17-Year-Old Actress Becomes World's Youngest Fuel Cell Vehicle Customer With Lease of Industry-Leading Honda FCX Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle
Q'orianka Kilcher Becomes the Youngest Customer to Lease the Company's Environmental Status Symbol
LOS ANGELES, March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today that it will further advance its real world fuel cell vehicle program by handing the keys to its next retail customer, 17-year-old Q'orianka Kilcher, who earned praise as the young star of the 2005 film "The New World."
As the ultimate expression of Honda's technological and environmental leadership, the zero-emissions Honda FCX is not simply a car of the future, but a real world vehicle on the road today that has met all applicable federal safety standards. A hydrogen-powered vehicle with zero emissions, the FCX represents one of the most important transportation solutions and the ultimate in clean mobility for the future.
"The best way to demonstrate the importance of next generation vehicles like the Honda FCX is to put the next generation of drivers behind the wheel," said John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda. "Q'orianka Kilcher will be driving around Hollywood in the ultimate environmental status symbol, literally and figuratively driving the change toward a hydrogen future."
"As a young person today, I feel it is important to take initiative toward seeking positive solutions and stepping up the quest toward clean energy and environmental preservation," said Q'orianka Kilcher. "When I first started pursuing my dream of a zero emissions vehicle as my first car, it seemed like a pretty unrealistic dream. With Honda's innovation and support, my dream of helping the environment became a reality!"
Honda's advanced fuel cell technology program has been proven and tested through a successful fleet sales partnership over the last five years, including nearly two years with the Spallino family, the world's first fuel cell family. Honda has learned extensively from these experiences and plans to use these experiences toward the ultimate goal of achieving the mass market commercialization of fuel cell vehicles.
The FCX is powered by Honda's originally developed fuel cell stack (Honda FC Stack) with the breakthrough capability to start and operate in freezing temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit, along with increased performance, range and fuel efficiency compared with earlier models.
The hydrogen-powered Honda FCX is the only fuel cell vehicle certified by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and U.S. EPA for everyday commercial use. CARB and EPA have also certified the FCX as a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) and the EPA has confirmed a range of 210 miles. With seating for four people, the FCX is practical for a wide range of real-world applications, placing over 20 vehicles on the road in the hands of customers, including the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chula Vista, Las Vegas, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the State of New York. Additionally, the Honda FCX is the only fuel cell vehicle fully certified to meet the applicable federal government crash safety standards. Honda undertook fuel cell research in 1989 and has been road testing vehicles in the United States since 1999. Honda has also been a member of the California Fuel Cell Partnership based in Sacramento, California, since 1999.