Hydrogen — if you can find it, and you probably can't unless you live in California — can be twice as expensive as gasoline for the same energy content. However, the car will go almost three times as far on the same amount, making the cost per mile much lower. Honda doesn't pretend that a fuel cell-car is ready for prime time. Rather, it hopes to disseminate the 2008 FCX to users who have access to hydrogen. There's a station here in Washington. Two in Las Vegas, a few in the Detroit area, mainly for use by automakers' experimental fleets, a handful in other states. California has 24 and 14 more being planned, according to the California Fuel Cell Partnership. Most are in the Los Angeles-San Diego and San Francisco-Sacramento corridors.
Hydrogen is plentiful. But getting it loose to use as fuel isn't easy. Most of it — 95%, says Ben Knight, Honda's vice president for research and development in America — comes from natural gas, the same fuel that heats most U.S. homes. The U.S. has roughly 3% of the world's natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Big players: Russia (27%), Iran (16%), Qatar (15%).
How much? Honda leases two current-generation FCX cars to individuals for $500 a month. It won't say whether the '08s will be more than that. The '08s are expected to cost Honda about half as much to make as the current models, which nevertheless will be half a million bucks each, or so.