Honda Plans to Be First to Lease Fuel Cell Car
OIT -- The 2005 North American International Auto Show didn't set a stage just for automakers to showcase new products but also to touch on research advancements for better vehicle fuel efficiency.
Honda Motor Co. announced Tuesday that it would be the first automaker to lease a vehicle powered by a fuel cell to an individual consumer in the United States.
Fuel cells use water to produce electricity to power vehicles.
Takeo Fukui, Honda's chief executive officer, said the company decided to lease a 2005 FCX to a customer to demonstrate how far the technology has progressed.
At the auto show in Los Angeles, Hyundai Motor Co. unveiled a fuel cell Tucson small sport utility vehicle prototype. Last year, the automaker showcased its Sante Fe version.
"This is not something you're going to see tomorrow, but it's an important vehicle because it has low emission," said Hyundai spokesman Christopher Hosford.
Hyundai and other companies, though, can't offer the technology to consumers yet because it's more expensive to produce than gas-electric hybrid vehicles. In addition, liquid in fuel cell vehicles tends to freeze in extreme cold temperatures.
GM, which has taken an aggressive stance on the technology, says it could be ready to commercialize by 2010.
However hybrids, which include models like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, represent demand for fuel-efficient vehicles.
The Prius was in high demand last year as gas prices soared, particularly during the first six months of the year. Toyota sold about 50,000 of the vehicles in 2004, about double its sales target.
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