Honda Begins Production of the FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle
June 18, 2008
Honda Motor Company started production of its new FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle in Japan on June 16. The new vehicle was designed from scratch as a fuel cell vehicle and is being produced at a dedicated fuel cell vehicle assembly line at the Honda Automobile New Model Center. The 100-kilowatt fuel cell stack is manufactured at Honda Engineering Company, where the several hundred cells required for the fuel cell stack are being mass produced. The vehicle features a lithium-ion battery pack, so Honda is not only the first major automaker to manufacture a fuel cell vehicle, but also the first to manufacture a vehicle with a lithium-ion battery pack. See the Honda press release and the specifications and features for the vehicle.
Honda intends to produce "a few dozen" of the vehicles within the next year and a total of 200 vehicles in the next 3 years. In the United States, the vehicle will be first be leased to the Hollywood elite, starting with film producer Ron Yerxa and followed by actress Laura Harris and actress Jamie Lee Curtis and her husband, filmmaker Christopher Guest. Business owner and car enthusiast Jim Solomon will also lease one of the vehicles, as well as Jon Spallino, who has been leasing the previous version of the FCX vehicle since 2005. See the Honda press release.
As the FCX Clarity rolls off the production line, a number of lithium-ion battery manufacturers are gearing up to meet automakers' future plans. Toyota Motor Corporation announced on June 11 that Panasonic EV Energy Company, Ltd., Toyota's joint venture with the Matsushita Group, will start limited production of lithium-ion batteries next year and full production in 2010, in support of Toyota's planned launch date for a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Toyota is also establishing a new battery research department to develop an innovative next-generation battery that can outperform a lithium-ion battery. Meanwhile, Sanyo Electric Company, Ltd. is launching the mass production of lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles next year and plans to begin producing lithium-ion batteries for plug-in hybrids in 2011. The company has teamed up with the Volkswagen Group on hybrid vehicle batteries. In addition, Hitachi, Ltd. announced in March that it received an order from General Motors Corporation for its lithium-ion battery systems, which it claims will be installed in more than 100,000 hybrid vehicles annually, starting in 2010. See the press releases from Toyota and Hitachi, and the Sanyo press releases on its battery production and alliance with Volkswagen.