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Honda Eyeing Mass Production of Fuel Cell Vehicles in 10 Yrs: Pres.

Tokyo, Dec 27, 2007 (Jiji Press) - Honda Motor Co. <7267> may be able to start mass-producing fuel cell vehicles within 10 years, President Takeo Fukui has said in an interview with Jiji Press.

Fukui thus emphasized the firm's intention to focus on fuel cell vehicles, rather than electric vehicles, in its work to develop next-generation eco-friendly vehicles.

The major Japanese automaker is set to release the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle on a lease basis in Japan and the United States next year. The FCX Clarity is the second fuel cell vehicle model for Honda after the FCX, which was launched in 2002.

Fuel cell vehicles, powered by electricity generated through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, emit no carbon dioxide, the main culprit for global warming.

The major hurdle to the spread of fuel cell vehicles is the lack of facilities to supply hydrogen. Honda is developing a home-use system for producing hydrogen from natural gas.

Fukui said that once the technical problem is resolved, infrastructure for supplying fuel would be established.

Fukui indicated that electric vehicles are not attractive, citing their short travel distance and a long time needed for recharging. Electric vehicles are not suitable for overseas markets, where there are many long-distance drivers, he said.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. <7211> and Nissan Motor Co. <7201> plan to release electric vehicles in Japan in 2009 and 2012, respectively, expecting that they will be used mainly for short-distance travel in urban areas.

Fukui said that Honda has no plan to develop automobiles that can be used only in limited areas.

By Jiji Press, (c) Jiji Press

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