Election Section

L.A. first to receive hydrogen-powered car

Paul Chavez The Associated Press
Tuesday October 08, 2002

LOS ANGELES – The first retail zero-emissions car available in the United States will be delivered to the city by the end of the year by Honda, officials said Monday. 

The hydrogen-powered Honda FCX prototype will be used by city employees in a program designed to give the car manufacturer feedback on the clean-air vehicle, said Art Garner, a spokesman for American Honda Motor Co. in Torrance. 

After the first hydrogen Honda is delivered, four more will be made available for leasing by the city by the end of 2003, Garner said. 

“Air quality in the Los Angeles basin has steadily improved in recent years, thanks in part to the deployment of new environmental technologies,” Mayor James Hahn said in a statement. “Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles hold great promise for future clean air vehicles and it’s important that Los Angeles play a leading role in development and early use of this technology.” 

The FCX — short for “fuel cell experimental” — is modeled on the EV Plus, a battery-powered car that Honda began leasing to U.S. customers in 1997. 

The FCX carries 41 gallons of hydrogen and has a range of 220 miles. Its top speed is 96 mph. 

The four-seat car has been certified as a zero-emission vehicle by the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Garner said. 

City employees will use the vehicles on the job as regular pool cars and for commuting. 

Los Angeles officials and Honda are completing plans to secure a third-party that will provide fuel for the vehicles. 

The leasing agreement will be finalized by the end of the year and information on the program’s cost will be released then, said Hilda Delgado, a spokeswoman in the mayor’s office. 

Fuel-cell vehicles rely on hydrogen, combined with oxygen from the atmosphere, to produce electricity. They are as quiet as those vehicles that rely on batteries for power. Water and heat are the only waste products. 

“Los Angeles and Southern California have been leaders in seeking the new clean air technology,” Garner said. “So it’s kind of a natural fit.” 

Honda plans to lease about 30 fuel cell cars in California and Japan over the next two to three years.