LOS ANGELES -- Honda has drawn a line in the sand.
Defying cynics who proclaim that retail-ready hydrogen-fueled cars are perpetually 20 years away, outgoing Honda President Takeo Fukui recently proclaimed that the automaker will mass produce a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle by 2018.
This was not a PR stunt. Fukui was dead serious.
Last month, I drove the future.
For four days, I was the pilot of the Honda FCX Clarity, a purpose-built car with a hydrogen fuel cell stack and lithium ion batteries. There's no engine; the front wheels are propelled by electric drive motors. And while far from the first hydrogen car on the road, the FCX Clarity is the first fuel cell vehicle assembled in serial production.
In my experience, many zero-emission demonstration vehicles feel cobbled together by Caltech students during Prank Night. But the FCX Clarity could have rolled off a Honda showroom floor.
The Clarity's fit and finish was solid and tight. Amenities befitted a top-line Acura. Driving feel was seamless from an Accord, albeit with a single transmission gear and regenerative braking.