December 3, 2002

Honda and Toyota first with market-ready fuel cell cars

honda fcx
Honda FCX. Click image to enlarge

Los Angeles, California – In a nearly simultaneous introduction, Honda and Toyota became the first automakers to put production-ready fuel cell cars on the road on Monday when Honda’s FCX and Toyota’s FCHV fuel cell cars were handed over to university and government departments in California and Japan in an experimental lease program.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Jim Hahn took delivery of the first of five Honda FCX fuel cell cars. The remaining four will be delivered in 2003. The four-seater Honda FCX has 80 horsepower and a range of up to 355 kilometres. Honda plans to lease approximately 30 fuel cell cars in California and Japan over the next two to three years.

Toyota delivered its first two fuel-cell vehicles to the University of California, Irvine and the University of California, Davis. The two vehicles are the first of a total of six “Toyota FCHV” fuel-cell vehicles that will be leased to the two campuses. The four additional vehicles will arrive later next year.

The Toyota FCHV-4 is based on the Toyota Highlander mid-size sport utility vehicle with a fuel-cell stack developed and built by Toyota. The FCVH has a range of approximately 290 kilometres and a top speed of 155 km/h. Each vehicle will be leased for a total of 30 months at a cost of approximately $10,000 per month.

Toyota Motor Sales executive vice president and COO, Jim Press, said there are three key challenges that must be met before zero-emission fuel-cell vehicles can be brought to market in volume.

“On the product side, there will be numerous hydrogen-specific issues such as further improvements and refinements in durability and drive-ability, vehicle maintenance, and fuel tank capacity that must be addressed,” said Press. “On the consumer side, we must raise awareness of the importance of zero-emission vehicles, confirm to the public the highest level of safety and vehicle integrity, and gauge customer acceptance for such things as limited driving range. Finally, there are the operational and logistical issues, including the establishment of a practical hydrogen-refueling infrastructure.”

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