On January 8, 2006 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, Honda announced it will begin commercial production of its Honda FCX hydrogen fuel cell vehicle within the next 3 to 4 years in Japan.
Japan currently has a dozen or so hydrogen fueling stations, either public or private, throughout the country. The question remains though, will enough additional infrastructure be added in Japan within the next 3 to 4 years in order to make the Honda FCX a viable commercial success?
Honda is not shy about pushing the commercial limits of their hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. On June 29, 2005 Honda became the first manufacturer to lease a hydrogen vehicle to private individuals, the Jon and Sandy Spallino family of Redondo Beach, California.
Mazda and BMW are taking a little less risky approach by trying to be the first to the showrooms in 2008 with dual-fuel hydrogen-gasoline internal combustion engine vehicles. These vehicles can run on either hydrogen or gasoline with the flip of a switch eliminating the need for vast infrastructure to be in place before sales start.
Honda, however, with its fuel cell vehicle is dependent upon the hydrogen infrastructure being in place. So, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds in Japan over the next several years and if this can serve as a model for rollouts in other countries as well.