Honda has announced that it will launch a hydrogen fuel-cell sedan next year as well as a new high volume hybrid vehicle priced under its $25,000 Civic hybrid in 09. The announcement was made at yesterday’s demonstration of Honda’s FCX fuel-cell prototype in Washington, a four-door concept with a range of 270 miles and a top speed of 100mph.

"We're calling this the 'FCX Concept' but I can assure you it is not just some far out, pie-in-the-sky exercise in what may or may not come to fruition some day in the distant future," said Honda fuel-cell marketing manager Steve Ellis in an interview with reporters from The Detroit News. Ellis explained that the new vehicle is key to attracting more green-conscious customers and that it will be initially launched in Japan and the US only.

A major problem holding back the introduction of more hydrogen powered vehicles is the lack of hydrogen fueling stations. One solution Honda is considering is launching an experimental home energy station that uses household natural gas to generate the clean fuel. The production fuel-cell vehicle Honda will release is said to be similar to the FCX concept car but will feature new bumpers and a more conventional interior.

Honda is not alone in its quest to launch the ultra-clean vehicles. China is reported to be investing heavily in the technology and General Motors is already planning to launch a worldwide fleet of them later this year for testing, with up to 100 hydrogen-fueled Chevrolet Equinox SUVs taking part. Ford and DaimlerChrysler also have their own versions and BMW has already released a 7-series saloon, which features an internal combustion engine that runs on pure hydrogen.


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