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Honda's hydrogen car costs $500 a month, if you can find one

The Clarity Fuel Cell will arrive in California in limited quantities by the end of 2016.

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Hydrogen vehicle technology still faces many technical hurdles, but there's a slight chance early adopters can buy Honda's latest model. The company revealed that it will start selling the Clarity Fuel Cell sedan by the end of the year for around $60,000, though it will only be available under a retail lease for "under $500." That's the same price and terms as for Toyota's Mirai and Hyundai's Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles. However, the pool of potential buyers will be small. The vehicles will only be offered in Los Angeles and Orange counties, the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento.

Honda also emphasized that it will only produce "limited volumes" to start. To give you an idea as to how limited, Honda only leased 45 of its previous Clarity FCX vehicles in the US between 2008 and 2014. However, the company has committed resources to a public-private California refueling station network called H2USA, so it will no doubt produce more cars this time around.

There are considerable pluses to the vehicles compared to EVs (and some minuses). The car will go 300 miles before needing an H2 fill-up, and that process only takes five minutes compared to a half-hour, minimum, for a Tesla-style supercharge. The downside is that an EV can be charged up nearly anywhere, and the power is free at many charging stations. Honda hasn't said whether it will offer buyers hydrogen for free like Toyota and Hyundai have, but if not, the fuel will likely run $1-3 per GGE (gasoline gallon equivalent).

There are other downsides to hydrogen cars compared to EVs at the moment, mainly due to the cost (and pollution) generated in creating hydrogen, and the lack of efficiency compared to batteries. (For a deeper dive, read about that in Engadget's hydrogen vehicle explainer.) The best way to improve the technology is to test it in the real world, however, and that's exactly what Honda is doing with the Clarity Fuel Cell.

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