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2009 Honda Clarity Review

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For a moment, after pressing the little red “Start” button, it seems like nothing has happened. Suddenly, a kaleidoscope of colors erupts from the multi-level instrument panel, followed by the soft whine of a compressor. Honda’s new FCX fuel-cell vehicle has come to life.

 

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As regular readers of TheCarConnection.com are well aware, virtually every automaker is tinkering with hydrogen technology, and for good reason. Whether you burn the lightweight gas in an internal combustion engine or feed it into a fuel cell stack, what you get on the “dirty side” is effectively no more than water vapor. In a world worrying about smog and global warming, hydrogen is seen, by many, as the ultimate clean fuel.

 

In recent months, we’ve had the opportunity to test a variety of hydrogen-powered prototypes, such as the Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell vehicle and BMW’s Hydrogen-7, which goes the internal combustion route. But Honda’s FCX takes the technology to an entirely new level.

 

First seen at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda plans to begin leasing the FCX for $600 a month, and not just to carefully selected corporate fleets, but to everyday consumers. The costly experiment is also a risky one, exposing the Clarity to all the daily challenges faced by your typical motorist, from bad weather to fussy infants.

 

“The FCX Clarity is a shining symbol of the progress we've made with fuel cell vehicles and of our belief in the promise of this technology,” proclaims American Honda president and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura. “Step by step, with continuous effort, commitment and focus, we are working to overcome obstacles to the mass-market potential of zero-emissions hydrogen fuel-cell automobiles.”

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