Steane Klose | Jun 17, 2008

The world’s first production fuel cell car rolled off the assembly line yesterday and quite rightfully its creators at Honda are more than a little chuffed. With a gaggle of Hollywood celebs looking on, the first production Honda FCX Clarity whirred quietly to life and was driven off the line.

Honda plans to deliver 200 Claritys over the next two years and has established a dedicated assembly line at its Tochigi New Model Centre to handle production. Featuring a 5,000psi hydrogen tank, the Clarity has an effective range of 435km on a tank and is reported to return a remarkable 3.46 L/100km.

While Toyota has expended its efforts on the ‘here and now’ with Kevin Rudd's favourite stop-gap measure – the petrol-electric hybrid, Honda has been diligently - and in comparison rather quietly - working on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Honda debuted its first hydrogen fuel cell prototype back in 1999, the FCX-V1, and have in fact been on this particular job for around 19 years. The original quiet achievers.

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But don’t rush to write Honda a cheque just yet. The Honda FCX has no tickets booked for Australia. In addition to the Japanese domestic market, Honda will only be supplying three Los Angeles area Honda dealers with the FCX, choosing to restrict supply to areas that have easy access to a ready supply of hydrogen.

In California, you will only be able to lease one over a three year term for a remarkably cheap $US600 per month including maintenance and insurance.

There has been little mention across the media of the fact that Honda has previously previewed the home-based hydrogen refueling plant for FCX owners. Dubbed the Home Energy Station (HES), this small plant can convert natural gas to electricity, heat and hydrogen to power the home and refuel the FCX. We can only presume that this brilliant device will follow some time in the future.

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