My first Honda lasted 244,000 miles before I had to let it go. Honda Motors (NYSE:HMC) is well-known for the quality and longevity of its vehicles, and now the Japanese car maker is making an extra effort to ease consumer pain at the pump with new lines of fuel efficient vehicles.
Its efforts are capturing the attention of the eco-friendly Hollywood community. Going green is turning into big business as gas prices continue to climb. Investors should know that Honda is one car maker with a solid stake in the race toward commercializing fuel efficient vehicles on multiple fronts. (To learn how companies make big money with a green makeover, read The Green Marketing Machine and For Companies, Green Is The New Black.)
Earlier this week Honda announced that it would begin leasing its FCX Clarity hydrogen-powered vehicle. FCX's only emission is clean water vapor. The vehicle has its own electric engine and a compact hydrogen fuel pack allowing for a driving range of 270 miles before refueling. For a cool $600 per month for a three-year lease, you can have your own zero-emission sedan if you live in Southern California, where drivers have a better chance of finding a hydrogen fueling station. Actress and children's book author Jamie Lee Curtis will be one of the first owners. Honda who hopes her celebrity will draw prospective customers.
Not waiting around
BMW has also recruited celebrities like Edward Norton and Cameron Diaz to promote its Hydrogen 7 Series vehicle. BMW is not traded on U.S. exchanges, but investors interested in ownership should explore the Claymore/Robb Report Global Luxury ETF (AMEX:ROB). General Motors (NYSE:GM), which is working with Magic Johnson to publicize its hydrogen vehicles, is hoping to commercialize its line of zero-emission vehicles by 2012.
Toyota (NYSE:TM) whose flex-fuel Prius is already a fan favorite is also focusing on hydrogen power. Its Highlander-based Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV) is capable of traveling 515 miles on one tank of hydrogen at temperatures near -22 degrees Fahrenheit.
Downsides to Hydrogen
The fuel cells that power the hydrogen vehicles are still very expensive making commercial availability years down the road. There are a limited number of hydrogen fueling stations in country and it is debatable whether or not producing hydrogen is as efficient as diesel powered engines.
What if Hydrogen Can't Cut It?
Not to worry. Honda reports that diesel powered cars represented 27% of the 327,000 cars they sold in Europe last year. European drivers noted their preference for the fuel and power efficiency of diesel powered vehicles. Honda has also had strong sales of its Civic and CR-V crossover models in the U.S. and Europe last year as consumers have turned toward fuel efficient options.
Honda is also bolstered by its increasing sales in emerging markets like Brazil, Russia and China, its sales of motor cycles particularly in India along with its sales of power equipment and its home grown Honda Financing business segment. (Interest in new energy sources is growing? To learn more, read The Biofuels Debate Heats Up.)
Honda Motors is selling flex fuel vehicles which are beloved in Brazil, diesel powered vehicles favored by Europeans and introducing hydrogen powered vehicles here in the newly green envy U.S. Since picking a clear winner of fuel efficient technology may be a waste of time it's awesome if you can place your bet on options with bright future prospects. From my viewpoint an investment in Honda is one road toward the destination of fuel efficiency.
For further reading, be sure to check out our related articles Evaluating Green Equity Investments, and Top 10 Green Industries.