Honda unveils prototype of FCX fuel-cell vehicle

Honda Motor Co. on Tuesday took the wraps off the prototype of its FCX fuel-cell car with an eye to putting it on the Japanese market on a commercial basis before the end of the year.

In the initial stage, Honda envisages leasing FCXs to government agencies and other interested parties in the Tokyo metropolitan area, the company said. The amount it will charge and the number of FCXs it will lease has yet to be determined, it said.

The 4.17-meter-long car, equipped with a 157-liter compressed hydrogen fuel tank, is capable of a maximum speed of 150 kph and a range of 355 km. It seats four passengers.

Earlier this month, Honda agreed to lease the vehicle to the Los Angeles city government.

A fuel-cell is propelled by electricity generated by the chemical reaction between hydrogen in an onboard tank and oxygen taken from the air. As the sole byproduct of the hydrogen-oxygen reaction is water, there is no pollution.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. says it plans to start leasing 10 fuel-cell vehicles this year in Japan and the United States.

“We have received a series of requests” from companies to lease the fuel-cell vehicles, a Toyota official said.

MHI inks GM accord

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said Tuesday it has signed an agreement with U.S. auto giant General Motors Corp. to provide air conditioners and engine cooling systems for a new GM minivan scheduled to hit the market in 2004.

The deal, worth 70 billion yen, covers 850,000 minivans, Mitsubishi said.

GM plans to produce the new model between 2004 and 2008.

Mitsubishi has been providing air conditioners and car components to the GM group since 1997.