The Spallinos, who signed a two-year lease, will drive the FCX in everyday normal use, including the work commute from Redondo Beach to Irvine (approximately 41 miles each way over the 405). Honda chose the Spallinos for the test in part because they already own a CNG-fueled Honda Civic GX and are more accustomed to dealing with a limited number of fueling stations.
The Spallinos will have access to several hydrogen fueling stations (via the California Hydrogen Highway refueling initiative), including one at Honda’s headquarters in Torrance. An additional fueling station is available at LAX, to the north of Redondo Beach.
The family will pay $500 a month to lease the FCX—considerably cheaper than the $7,300+ per month charged to its Japanese customers (earlier post). The fee includes maintenance and insurance on a car costing more than $1 million.
Honda intends to lease several more FCXs to individual customers over the next year. Currently, the automaker has a fleet of 13 FCX fuel cell vehicles in regular daily use with six public municipal customers in California, New York and Nevada.
The FCX is the only hydrogen vehicle to date to be certified by both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California’s Air Resources Board (CARB). The EPA certified the 2005 FCX as a Tier-2 Bin 1, and CARB certified the FCX as a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV).
The 2005 FCX model uses Honda own fuel cell stack (Honda FC Stack). The 2005 FCX carries an EPA city/highway rating of 62/51 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent and a range of 190 miles. (More specs here.)
Honda’s announcement came on the same day that GM released a survey on American’s Views of Emerging Automotive Technologies from which the company concluded, among other things, that:
...while the survey shows that Americans support the same goals that are at the heart of GM’s overall advanced technology strategy for improving efficiency [i.e., hydrogen], it’s troubling what little credit we’re getting. Clearly we’ve got our work cut out for us in communicating GM’s accomplishments and our commitment to developing advanced technologies.
Honda just widened that gap. While the leasing of the car to a private family will likely provide useful engineering and design feedback, the publicity attendant to it will further strengthen the popular perception of Honda as one of the leaders of emerging technology.