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Honda Announces FCX Clarity Business Plan and Commencement of Customer Selection Process
 Date: May 21, 2008 00:07
 Submitted by:  Tuan
 Source: Honda Press Release
 Credibility Rating: N/A


TORRANCE, Calif., May 20, 2008 - Honda plans to deliver about 200 FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles to customers in the first three years of production, with leases beginning in July, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today. The lease program marks the world's first large-scale retail initiative for fuel cell vehicle technology, and Honda has begun the process of identifying customers from a group of over 50,000 individuals who have expressed interest in the FCX Clarity on the company's website.

Honda will announce its first customers when the first FCX Clarity rolls off the production line at a ceremony on June 16, 2008 in Japan, where Honda will also showcase the world's first dedicated fuel cell vehicle production facility. Additionally, Honda will announce further plans for involvement by Honda dealerships in the U.S., as well as future customer care and customer qualification initiatives.

"Our customers for the current generation FCX have played an important role in our advancement of Honda fuel cell vehicle technology," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "The first FCX Clarity customers represent the early adopters who will play a critical role in the mainstreaming of fuel cell cars.

"We remain firmly convinced that the hydrogen-powered fuel cell car represents one of the best long-term solutions to the world's growing environmental and energy concerns," added Mendel. "With the launch of the FCX Clarity lease program, we will begin making fuel cell vehicles a market reality allowing customers to participate in creating a cleaner and more sustainable transportation future."

The FCX Clarity launch began in October 2005 with the unveiling of the next-generation FCX Concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show, which was followed in November 2007 by the debut of the FCX Clarity production model at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where the company announced plans to begin leasing vehicles to customers in the U.S. Initially, the program will be based on a 3-year lease term with a price of $600 per month and will be targeted at consumers in Southern California.

Customer selection process

Honda expects to lease several dozen FCX Clarity models per year in the U.S. and Japan to reach the total of about 200 units in the first three years. Since its Tokyo concept debut, Honda has received requests from more than 50,000 individuals who have indicated their interest in receiving further updates about the vehicle and about being considered as future customers of Honda fuel cell technology. The company is now working to narrow the list through a four-step customer qualification process:

* Step 1 -- Based on respondents' residential location, the list of potential customers has been narrowed to approximately 500 people living in very close proximity to publicly-accessible hydrogen fueling stations, including planned or existing stations in Santa Monica, Torrance and Irvine.
* Step 2 -- Customers meeting the geographical criteria will receive an e-mail prompting them to take a customer selection survey if they are serious about wanting to lease an FCX Clarity.
* Step 3 - The survey will qualify customers based on driving patterns, vehicle needs, vehicle storage and financial criteria.
* Step 4 - Customers qualify for the next steps, including an interview with American Honda.

Everyone who has expressed an interest in the FCX Clarity will be kept abreast of new developments via the FCX Clarity web site and by e-mail communications. All interested prospects' information will be retained for future consideration.

About the FCX Clarity

The FCX Clarity is a next-generation, hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle. Propelled by an electric motor that runs on electricity generated in the fuel cell, its only emission is water, and its fuel efficiency is three times that of a modern gasoline-powered automobile.

Based on the entirely-new Honda V Flow fuel cell platform, and powered by a highly compact, efficient and powerful new Honda V Flow fuel cell stack, the FCX Clarity marks the significant progress Honda continues to make in advancing the real-world performance and appeal of the fuel cell car. Significant advances over Honda's previous generation FCX include:

* an advanced new four-passenger sedan design
* a greater than 30 percent increase in driving range to 270 miles (1)
* a 20 percent increase in fuel economy to 68mpg (2)
* a 48 percent increase in fuel cell stack power density
* a 40 percent smaller and 50 percent lighter new lithium-ion battery pack

Honda is responsible for the development of the world's first fuel cell car to be certified for regular commercial use by the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board; the first commercial lease of a fuel cell car to a fleet customer; and the first individual retail customer for a fuel cell vehicle.

Honda and the Environment

Based on its philosophy of being a company "society want to exist", Honda has been a leader in the development of cleaner and more fuel efficient products for more than thirty years, beginning in 1975 with the introduction of the Civic CVCC, the first vehicle to meet U.S. Clean Air Act exhaust emissions standards without a catalyst. Honda introduced the world's first Low (LEV), Ultra-Low (ULEV) and Super Ultra-Low (SULEV) emissions gasoline vehicles, and America's first low emission gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, the Honda Insight, in December 1999. The company has been recognized four consecutive times as America's "greenest automaker" by the Union of Concerned Scientists, most recently in 2007, and has maintained the highest automobile fleet-average fuel efficiency (lowest fleet-average CO2 emissions) of any U.S. automaker over the past 15 years (3). The company is accelerating its efforts to introduce more fuel-efficient vehicles, including an all-new, more affordable hybrid Honda slated for introduction in 2009.

(1) Preliminary Honda estimate, based on existing EPA range methodology
(2) Honda estimate of EPA city-highway combined fuel economy rating for FCX Clarity
(3) Average sales-weighted fuel consumption for 1992-2007 mid-model year passenger-car and light-truck fleets sold in the U.S. based on final CAFE reports through 2006 and 2007 mid-year reports
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