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Honda's Hydrogen FCX Clarity: Clearly, The Future Is Here

Honda FCX
Source: honda.com
Honda FCX

If you've read this blog for long, you know how I feel about hydrogen fuel cell cars. Great potential. Limited real world possibilities right now. That said, this morning Honda gave us a glimpse into hydrogen's promise. It began production of its new hydrogen fuel cell car the FCX Clarity.

The company showed the carto reporters in Japan and introduced some of the first customers who will be leasing an FCX for $600 a month. The cars will be leased only in California because that state has the most developed infrastructure of hydrogen re-fueling stations in the U.S.

While the Clarity won't be here until late July, the hype over its mileage is already turning heads. Look at these numbers on the equivalent to gas for this car:

City: 77 mpg
Highway: 67 mpg
Combine 72 mpg
Range: 280 miles on a tank of hydrogen.

Honda is hoping to plant a flag and steal away some of Toyota's thunder when it comes to "green" cars. Toyota created the halo of good will with the Prius. Since then, other hybrids have come out, and some you could argue, are better than the Prius. Still that car remains king of the "green". Honda would love to see the same thing happen with the FCX Clarity.

I think that's a tall order right now, simply because of the limited distribution for the hydrogen fuel cell car. Sure, they will get plenty of attention. Every TV network, newspaper and magazine will hail its arrival. But in real world terms, I think we need to see the FCX available everywhere before the public equates Honda with hydrogen fuel cell cars. That ain't happening for a while.

Still, let's be clear. Honda's FCX Clarity marks a new day. For the first time ever, there will be a hydrogen fuel cell car available to lease, albeit in small numbers. The potential is amazing. For Honda, the future is finally here.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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