The Love For Plug-Ins Screws Honda's Hydrogen Plan


Here’s how the American auto industry can once again lead: By playing head games with the international competition.

Barack Obama is all but abandoning the previous adminstration’s push into hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, opting to focus on plug-ins. This means Honda (HMC) will have to shift course slightly, Bloomberg reports.

George Bush was a big advocate of hydrogen fuelled vehicles, putting $1.2 billion in federal funds towards it. To that end, Honda developed the FCX Clarity sedan, a hydrogen fuelled vehicle that leases for $600 a month. It just opened a hydrogen car factory in July of 2008. Edumnds flipped out in its review of the car, saying the “strikingly sculpted four-place sedan” is “well-balanced, enjoyable but not challenging to drive, and so comfortable that it’s almost a little luxurious.”

Now that there’s a new boss in town, those great cars might not see widespread acceptance. Obama cut hydrogen spending to $177.7 million this year from $211.9 million, Bloomberg reports. The news org also points out, instead, there’s $25 billion in spending for advance vehicle technology that mostly focuses on electric cars.

Honda will open an electric vehicle factory in Kyoto, and aim to produce gas-electric hybrids by the end of 2010. Honda hasn’t built one yet because of the high cost of a lithium ion battery, and the poor range Bloomberg writes.

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