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Honda Revs Up The Hybrid And Hydrogen Fuel Cell Race

Wednesday, 21 May 2008 | 8:53 AM ET
2007 Honda FCX
AP
2007 Honda FCX

Not so fast Toyota. Hold on GM and Nissan. Honda has announced plans to roll out more hybrids and its long anticipated hydrogen fuel cell car.

When the news came out of the company's headquarters early this morning, the message was clear: Honda is getting serious about not only competing, but also winning the race for alternative powered cars.

In hybrids, Honda has announced that early next year it will roll out a lighter, more affordable 5 door hatchback that will look similar to the hydrogen fuel cell FCX Clarity model. The plan: annual sales 200,000 worldwide, including a 100,000 here in the U.S. After that, the Japanese automaker also has plans to bring out 2 other hybrids.

But Honda's just getting warmed up.

In June the company will announce the Americans who will be leasing the company's new FCX Clarity, a hydrogen fuel cell car that is highly anticipated. More than 50,000 Americans have expressed an interest in leasing an FCX starting this summer. By mid-June, we'll find out some of the people/family's who will pay $600 a month over 3 years to drive the hydrogen fuel cell car.

Honda's announcement is the latest among automakers to win the race for alternative powered vehicles.

Right now, Toyota's in the lead by virtue of the success of the Prius and the company's hybrid line-up. Meanwhile GM and Nissan are making headlines touting the work they're doing designing and building electrically powered cars. Now comes Honda and a flurry of new models.

I like what Honda is doing not only because of its scope, but also because the company is branching out from just hybrid versions of its Civic. This is what the hybrid market needs. Different designs to stand out from the conventional models in the line-up. Believe it or not, it's the slightly different look of the Prius that make it such a hit.

Buckle up Toyota, GM and Nissan. The boys at Honda are ready to race.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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