Honda Clarity Fuel Cell coming -- at a price

Honda has revealed pricing and availability for its 2016 Clarity Fuel Cell sedan -- but it's not cheap.

The five-passenger, four-door vehicle will be in dealerships "before the end of 2016," Honda said Thursday. It will cost an estimated $60,000, with leases available from $500 a month.

That will put Honda in the neighborhood of its fuel cell competitors.

Toyota announced last fall that its four-door hydrogen fuel cell Mirai sedan would cost about $58,000, and with a $4,000 down payment could be leased for $499.

Those MSRPs do not include state and federal rebates, incentives and tax breaks that could knock up to $13,000 off the final price.

Hyundai Motor Co. doesn't sell hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but was early to the technology by offering leases of its fuel cell version of its Tucson sport utility vehicle in late 2014, on deals starting at $499 a month after a $3000 down payment.

There will be more fuel cell vehicles coming, too.

Ford Motor Co., which has put 1.3 million test miles on a fleet of 300 fuel cell vehicles over the last several years, recently cut a deal with Daimler, Renault and Nissan to develop a joint fuel cell technology that all four companies would share.

General Motors Co., which holds more patents for hydrogen fuel cell technology than any other carmaker, has similarly tested its HydroGen4 car. GM has partnered with Honda, its rival for the number of new fuel cell patents each year, to co-develop new automotive fuel cell applications, but has so far not announced plans to retail a vehicle using the technology.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars are attractive to some consumers, and some environmentalists, because they produce only water vapor as an emission, can be refueled in three to five minutes, and have a range of 300 miles or more.

To date, however, hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure has not kept pace with its most ardent fans' aspirations. Southern California has the nation's densest fuel cell filling station network, but there are still few retail stations open to the public.

Honda has been pushing hard toward more lower-polluting vehicles. The company was awarded on Thursday with the prestigious 2016 Green SUV Award, given out by the Green Car Journal trade publication. But the award wasn't given for a hydrogen fuel cell car, but for a regular old gasoline vehicle -- Honda's HR-V compact crossover, which boasts a promised segment-leading 35 miles per gallon fuel consumption.

Twitter: @misterfleming

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