The race is on to get clean-burning fuel-cell-powered vehicles -- at least a handful of them -- onto U.S. roads, and Honda Motor Co. on July 24 claimed it is in the lead, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But while Honda, archrival Toyota Motor Corp., and several other major automakers all say they plan to put fuel-cell cars on the road starting as soon as year-end, the days of mass-market hydrogen-fueled cars are still a long way off, according to the Journal
. Honda announced July 24, 2002 it is the first carmaker to receive certification to market a fuel-cell vehicle from U.S. and California environmental regulators. The company said it will begin leasing fuel-cell-powered Honda Civic FCX cars to selected customers beginning later this year. Honda's announcement comes just as other major automakers are preparing to go to court to block a new California law designed to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from vehicles sold in the state. Honda, which so far hasn't joined the attack on the new law, has a long history of using advances in clean-vehicle technology to burnish its corporate image and help sell its more conventional cars. Honda said it expects to lease about 30 FCXs to fleet customers in California and Tokyo during the next two to three years. Toyota also has said it plans to put small numbers of fuel-cell vehicles in the hands of government test fleets by the end of the year.