Honda's FCX gets a fat check from the government

Tax credits for buying fuel efficient vehicles isn't anything out of the ordinary in the United States. Hybrids like the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid have qualified for tax credits (as much as $3,150 for the Prius) from the Internal Revenue Service for a few years now.

Toyota, however, has become a victim of its own success when it comes to tax credits for its hybrid vehicles. Due to restrictions implemented by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (based on the number of units sold), Toyota hybrid buyers saw their tax credit drop from $3,150 in Q3 2006 to $1,575 in Q4 2006 and to $787 in Q2 2007 -- by Q4 2007, the tax credit will disappear.

While Toyota may be losing a key selling point in offloading its hybrids to customers, Honda just earned a whopper of a credit from the IRS. Its FCX hydrogen fuel cell vehicle has qualified for a $12,000 tax credit from the IRS.

Honda Fuel Cell Marketing Manager Stephen Ellis remarked that the $12,000 IRS credit was "further validation that the FCX is a real vehicle" and proves that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are "another step toward market viability."

"The consumer focus is where we need to put more attention," said Ellis in May. "We started with fleets, added a few consumers, now we're going to swing the pendulum."

Despite the fact that the IRS coughed up the tax credit and Honda was quick to praise the recognition, the FCX is still not available to the public. The vehicle will see limited consumer trials in 2008. And there's also the issue of pricing -- Honda still hasn't provided an estimate for the cost of the vehicle.

The FCX has a driving range of 270 miles and a top speed of 100 MPH. Its 0-60 acceleration of 9 seconds flat won't win many stoplight races, but it should be enough for most buyers.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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