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Today is Job 1 for the world's first series production fuel cell car as Honda executives and the first customers for its FCX Clarity looked on. Honda CEO Takeo Fukui and American Honda EVP John Mendel were also there to watch as the first production FCX Clarity was completed and driven off the line. Joining the Honda bosses were Ron Yerxa, Jon Spallino and Lauren Harris. Those three along with Jamie Lee Curtis, her husband Spinal Tap lead guitarist Christopher Guest and business owner Jim Salomon will be the first customers to take possession of their Claritys when they arrive in Southern California next month.
Honda put in a dedicated assembly line at its Tochigi New Model Center to produce the 200 Clarity units that are planned for delivery over the next couple of years. Currently Honda is only leasing the cars (for three years at $600/month) in areas where there is a already a dedicated supply of hydrogen and enough places to buy it. That means the Los Angeles area first, along with Japan. Three Los Angeles area Honda dealers have been named to provide service and support for the hydrogen fueled four passenger Accord sized sedan in case a cup holder or the car's very high-tech hydrogen fuel cell needs fixing. All we know is that these new FCX Clarity owners better have some big pockets for those oversized keys.
Honda Announces First FCX Clarity Customers and World's First Fuel Cell Vehicle Dealership Network as Clarity Production Begins in Japan
06/15/2008 -TOCHIGI, Japan - American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced five of the first customers for its advanced new FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle and also provided details of the world's first fuel cell vehicle dealership network in the United States. The announcements were made during a ceremony for the start of FCX Clarity production at the world's first dedicated fuel cell vehicle manufacturing facility in Japan.
Film producer Ron Yerxa will take delivery of the first FCX Clarity in July. The remaining four early adopters for Honda's next-generation fuel cell vehicle are author and actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her filmmaker husband Christopher Guest; business owner and car enthusiast Jim Salomon; actress Laura Harris; and Jon Spallino, already the world's first retail fuel cell vehicle customer, who has been leasing the current generation FCX since 2005. Yerxa, Harris and Spallino attended the event in Japan.
To provide its customers with outstanding sales and service support and as a critical step in advancing fuel cell vehicles in the real world, American Honda announced the establishment of the first network of dealers to facilitate the sales and service of fuel cell vehicles. The three Southern California Honda dealers are Power Honda Costa Mesa (Costa Mesa), Honda of Santa Monica (Santa Monica) and Scott Robinson Honda (Torrance).
"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," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "Our customers and dealers share in our vision for a cleaner and more sustainable transportation future, and share in our challenge to embrace a new generation of automotive technology that we think will carry the auto industry and its customers into the future."
FCX Clarity Customers
The five customers announced today were among the very first people to share with Honda their passion for the environment and interest in the FCX Clarity, dating back to its debut as a concept model at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show. The initial criteria for fuel cell vehicle ownership, including proximity to hydrogen refueling stations, driving patterns and vehicle needs, all played a part in Honda's customer selection process.
"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. Our customers are true pioneers and leaders in the effort to bring fuel cell technology to the marketplace," said Mendel.
Ron Yerxa, a film producer and partner at Bona Fide Productions, is a long-time car enthusiast and advocate for the environment. He lives with his wife, Annette Ballester, in Santa Monica, California. Yerxa first learned of the FCX Concept vehicle from a car magazine and contacted American Honda to share his interest and enthusiasm.
Jon Spallino, partner and Chief Financial Officer of an Irvine, California-based engineering and construction firm and the world's first retail customer of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle, is excited to trade in his first-generation FCX for the all-new FCX Clarity. Having lived with fuel cell technology for three years now, Spallino and his family, residents of Redondo Beach, California, are looking forward to the all-new vehicle's vastly improved performance, enhanced features, improved fuel efficiency, and advanced four-door, four-passenger sedan design.
Actress and children's book author Jamie Lee Curtis and her husband, filmmaker Christopher Guest, also live with their family in Santa Monica. Curtis and Guest have owned other alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles, and they continue to seek out ways to live and advocate a greener lifestyle.
Jim Salomon, a business owner and car enthusiast, resides in Newport Beach, California with his family and will be American Honda's first retail customer to regularly refuel at the recently renovated Irvine hydrogen refueling station. Salomon and his family live in a home he designed and built with an emphasis on energy efficiency as well as recycled and sustainable materials.
Actress and green advocate Laura Harris learned about the FCX Clarity from a friend and test drove a prototype car at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2007. Canadian-born Harris lives in Silverlake, California, and will refuel primarily in Burbank. Lessons learned from her usage patterns and experiences can help pave the way for eventual market expansion outside of the Irvine, Torrance, and Santa Monica areas.
Honda previously announced plans to deliver about 200 FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles in the U.S. and Japan to customers in the first three years of production, with leases beginning in July. The lease program marks the world's first large-scale retail initiative for fuel cell vehicle technology.
First-ever Fuel Cell Vehicle Dealership Network
Reinforcing its commitment to further advance Honda fuel cell technology, American Honda announced that three Southern California dealerships will comprise the world's first fuel cell automobile dealership network. Power Honda Costa Mesa, Honda of Santa Monica and Scott Robinson Honda are each located in close proximity to hydrogen refueling stations and will be well-positioned to support Honda's growing base of FCX Clarity customers.
American Honda is working with its dealer partners to implement processes for fuel cell vehicle lease, delivery and service support for the duration of their leases. Establishing a dedicated sales network and service infrastructure provides customers with the best balance of convenience and the highest quality of service. When the FCX Clarity requires periodic maintenance, customers will simply schedule a visit with their local FCX Clarity dealer.
American Honda will perform all required work at its specialized fuel cell service facility, in the greater Los Angeles area. Upon completion of the work, the dealer will return the vehicle to the customer.
About the FCX Clarity
The FCX Clarity is a next-generation, hydrogen powered fuel cell-powered vehicle. Propelled by an electric motor that runs on electricity generated in the fuel cell, the vehicle's 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 up to 280 miles*
a 25 percent increase in combined fuel economy to 72 miles/kg-H2*
(74 mpg GGE <miles per gallon gasoline gallon equivalent energy>)
a 50 percent improvement in fuel stack power output density by volume
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 (Honda FCX) to be certified for regular commercial use by the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board; the first deployment of a fuel cell car with a fleet customer; and the first individual retail customer for a fuel cell vehicle.
*Based on official 2008 EPA estimated range and fuel efficiency values
Related Press Release:
Production Begins for the New FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle
A number of new production processes showcased for the first time