Honda to start selling fuel cell vehicles in California this year

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By Larry Banks

Honda said on Thursday that it will sell its new hydrogen fuel cel vehicle in California by the end of 2016.

The company is the latest car-maker to bring a small number of hydrogen-powered vehicles to market, as more stringent emissions requirements are enforced in places like California and other US states.

The Japanese firm made the announcement at the Washington auto show, saying that the next generation Honda Clarity Fuel Cell car will cost around $60,000 with a monthly lease under $500. Honda declined to say how many vehicles it plans to sell, however.

The car will go on sale in Japan in several months and in the US by the end of the year, and will at first only be leased.

The basic platform the car uses, will also be used for another model – a new plug-in hybrid electric car that is due by 2018. Honda says it expects 20 percent of its US sales will be hybrids by 2020. It will also sell the 2017 model Accord hybrid by later this year.

One of the main issues for fuel cell vehicles is that there are very few hydrogen refuelling stations. Sales will start at some dealerships in L.A. and Orange counties, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. Honda hasn’t yet revealed details about sales planned for elsewhere in the US.

Meanwhile, Toyota started to offer hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in California in October last year. Hyundai also leased fuel cell vehicles to around 100 customers in the US. Both offer leases of such vehicles for $499 per month.

Toyota plans to sell 30,000 fuel cell vehicles globally by 2020, increasing from an expected 2,000 in 2016.

SOURCE: Reuters.

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