Honda's hydrogen fuel car to make U.S. debut at Detroit auto show

Honda's FCV concept car is headed to Detroit -- but not yet to American highways

Joining an increasingly crowded field of automakers producing zero-emissions alternative fuel vehicles, Honda's FCV hydrogen-powered concept car is to make its U.S. debut at the January North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The long-in-the-works fuel cell vehicle, unveiled last month in Japan, is the next progression in the company's FCX and FCX Clarity cars.

Honda says the car features a lower, wider, more aerodynamic body, with a roomier interior than the Clarity -- roomy enough to seat five passengers.

The company says it has a range of more than 300 miles.

Though it's still a concept vehicle, Honda has said a production version of the car could be available in Japan as early as March 2016, then in Europe and the United States shortly afterward

That company hasn't said what it will cost. Similar vehicles have price tags in the $60,000 range, before government rebates that are common for alternative fuel vehicles.

Honda joins rivals Toyota, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen in the hydrogen segment. The companies all have cars on the market or coming to dealerships soon -- with Toyota and Hyundai already producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for U.S. consumers.

Toyota's Mirai, to be released as a 2016 model, is expected to retail for the equivalent of about $60,000 when it goes on sale in Japan, where it will qualify for a $20,000 government rebate. It is expected to retail for a similar amount in the U.S.

The vehicles all face an infrastructure dilemma, though. An example: To date, there are only 11 hydrogen fueling stations in California, though that number could increase to 40 stations within a year.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles employ an electric motor, similar to the electric motors used in battery electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles. They typically have range similar to gas-powered vehicles, and like those vehicles can be refueled in three to five minutes.

Twitter: @misterfleming

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