Honda says it will put a hydrogen fuel-cell sedan into limited production next year and also will sell a unique mass-market hybrid within two years, priced less than the $25,000 Civic hybrid, USA Today
The automaker recently announced the vehicles at a demonstration of prototypes of the FCX fuel-cell sedans it will offer in the USA next year.
General Motors (GM) also has promised to hand over to individuals some time this year 100 Chevrolet Equinox SUVs modified to run on fuel-cell power.
GM and Honda say their fuel-cell vehicles meet U.S. safety standards and have the same features as gasoline models.
Honda wouldn't say how many 2008 FCXs it will offer. Just two current-generation FCXs are being used by individuals, who lease them for $500 a month.
Honda expects the 2008 model will get the gasoline equivalent of 68 miles per gallon in the federal city-highway combined-driving cycle. Hydrogen with the same amount of energy as a gallon of gasoline sells for $3 to $6. Because fuel-cell cars are much more efficient, the cost per mile is much less than with gasoline.
In next year's fuel cell car, Honda will use a revised and smaller fuel cell stack. Instead of taking up almost the entire floor space of the vehicle, it is mounted along the center tunnel, under the armrest between the driver and passenger.
A lithium-ion battery pack is mounted behind the rear seat, taking up a small amount of the trunk.
According to USA Today
, Honda says the FCX would augment, not replace, the Civic hybrid, which has lagged behind sales of Toyota's Prius hybrid, at least partly because it doesn't look different from the gasoline-powered Civic.