Honda begins production of hydrogen-fuel car

Japanese car giant Honda this week began the first commercial production of a zero-emission, hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle.

The FCX Clarity, a sporty-looking fuel-cell sedan, came off the production line in Tochigi, north of Tokyo. The assembly line is Honda's first to be dedicated to building fuel-cell vehicles.

The car  will be sold through a newly established fuel-cell vehicle dealership network in the US from July, Honda said.

Sales in Japan are expected to start later this year. The auto maker is targeting lease sales of about 200 FCX Clarity cars in the first three years in the two countries combined.

"Fuel-cell vehicles, which don't use fossil fuels and don't produce carbon dioxide, are necessary for the environment. We would like to make them more popular," Honda chief executive Takeo Fukui said.

The vehicle, which uses a lithium-ion battery, can run 620km on a single fuelling as measured under Japan's fuel efficiency test method, and has a top speed of 160 km per hour (99 mph).

Honda and Japanese rival Toyota were the world's first car makers to put a fuel-cell vehicle on the road in December 2002, and have since been in a tight race to prepare them for mass production.

Toyota said earlier this month that it has developed an advanced fuel-cell vehicle that can run for 830 km on a single tank of hydrogen.

Image: A prototype FCX Clarity lines up at a hydrogen outlet in California

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