This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 31, 2002

Honda to Begin Leasing Fuel Cell Vehicles by Year-End

American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced on July 24th that it will begin leasing "a limited number" of its fuel-cell-powered vehicles in the United States by the end of 2002. The California Air Resources Board recently certified the vehicle, called the Honda FCX, as a zero emissions vehicle, and it also earned the lowest national emission rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Honda FCX meets all U.S. safety standards.

Honda plans to lease 30 FCXs in California and Tokyo over the next three years, but currently has no plans for mass-market sales of the vehicle. The hydrogen-fueled vehicle requires access to a hydrogen fuel supply, which is available in several California locations due to the efforts of the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP). Its motor can produce 80 horsepower and generate slightly more than 200 pound-feet of torque. The car will seat four, has a range of 220 miles, and achieves a maximum speed of 93 miles per hour. See the Honda press release.

The CaFCP is a voluntary partnership of automakers, energy providers, fuel cell companies, and government agencies, all working together to demonstrate and promote fuel cell vehicles. Its latest member is the EPA, which joined in early July. See the CaFCP press release.

At least one U.S. automaker is in hot pursuit of Honda: General Motors Corporation (GM) unveiled its new Fuel Cell Development Center on July 29th and announced its commitment to be the first company to sell one million fuel cell vehicles. GM's new research facility, located in Honeoye Falls, New York, will create up to 100 new research and engineering jobs, bringing GM's total fuel cell development staff at the site to as many as 300 people. The new facility will develop fuel cells for both stationary and transportation applications. GM also received certification recently from a top German safety institute for a hydrogen tank that can be pressurized to 10,000 pounds per square inch. According to GM, the high-pressure tank would extend the range of fuel cell vehicles to 300 miles between fill ups.