Honda released a sketch of its new fuel cell concept vehicle, pointing to the design direction of the next-generation Clarity hydrogen car, which it now leases in small numbers in California.
Honda says it plans to launch its next-generation fuel cell car in the U.S and Japan in 2015 and later in Europe. The concept car will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week.
"The Honda FCEV Concept demonstrates the company's vision for the future of personal mobility and our commitment to developing advanced alternative fuel vehicles," said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co.
Fuel cell cars will be a big deal at the L.A. Auto Show. Toyota is expected to talk more about its vehicle, which it is revealing at the Tokyo Motor Show next week. Hyundai, which has been testing its Tucson fuel cell car in Southern California, is expected to reveal more about its plans for launch sales of the vehicle in the U.S.
Although there is a dearth of hydrogen stations -- just a handful in California and some in pockets on the East Coast – automakers are jumping into the fuel cell car business because they believe such vehicles will satisfy regulator demands for zero emission autos and offer drivers advantages over the current crop of battery powered electric cars.
The cars will have a range of at least 300 miles, three to four times that of an electric car. They also are quick to fill with fuel, just three to four minutes. Electric cars take anywhere from 20 minutes to much of a day to charge, depending on the electrical connection.
Nonetheless, hydrogen cars face their own challenges. They are expected to be expensive, with pricing far above conventional gasoline cars and most electric vehicles. And there won't be many places to fuel them for many years.
There should be 28 hydrogen stations, spread across California's metropolitan areas, by about the time Honda, Toyota and the other automakers are ready to bring the cars to market in two years, said Catherine Dunwoody, executive director of the California Fuel Cell Partnership.
Automakers expect the cost of hydrogen should be equal to or less than gasoline long-term.