California Gets Clarity

Look out hybrid owners, there’s a new eco-car in town. This Summer, Honda will release its new “FCX Clarity” hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for lease in parts of Japan and Southern California. It boasts improvements over older models, including a much smaller fuel cell that gives the car ample interior space as well as a lithium ion battery to store excess energy for later use and improve the car’s overall efficiency. In case you haven’t heard of this technology, the fuel cell basically mixes hydrogen and oxygen to create water and uses the energy from that process to power the vehicle. So the vehicle’s byproduct, rather than CO2, is a much friendlier 2-letter 1-number combination: H2O.

The reason the car is being released in such a limited capacity is because the car doesn’t use gasoline, so in order to refuel it, you need special refueling station. In parts of Southern California, Honda has created a “home energy station” that would put your gauge back on “F” while the car is in the garage. And though it would be quite cool to always set out on the open road with your car already fueled up, these stations produce hydrogen using natural gas, which is less than ideal. For now, hydrogen refueling stations are not widespread in the United States, but given high gas prices and the fact that the car itself zero emissions and–in my opinion–pretty sporty, maybe they will be soon.