London, June 17 : Japanese car manufacturer Honda has begun the first commercial production of a zero-emission, hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle.
According to a report by BBC News, Honda claims the vehicle offers three times better fuel efficiency than a traditional, petrol-powered car.
The four-seater, called FCX Clarity, runs on electricity produced by combining hydrogen with oxygen, and emits water vapour.
It is based on Honda's first-generation hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, the FCX concept car.
Honda plans to produce 200 of the cars over the next three years.
The first five customers are all based in southern California because of the proximity of hydrogen fuelling stations, according to Honda.
The car will initially be available for lease rather than purchase in California, starting in July, and then in Japan later this year.
It is being built on the world's first dedicated production line for fuel-cell vehicles in Japan.
"This is an important day in the history of fuel-cell vehicle technology and a monumental step closer to the day when fuel-cell cars will be part of the mainstream," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda.
According to Honda, it expects to lease a few dozen units in the US and Japan in 2008, and about 200 units within three years.
It said that the cost of the car, on a three-year lease, would be 600 dollars a month.
Honda delivered around 34 of these cars, mainly in the US, of which 10 remain in use.