Special Coverage

Greater LA Auto Show

LOS ANGELES – In what is starting to look like a competition, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and General Motors Corp. announce new leasing programs to regular consumers at the L.A. auto show here.

Honda is first on the docket, announcing a program to lease its new FCX Clarity fuel-cell car for $600 per month, including maintenance and collision insurance. The auto maker did not disclose how many vehicles it intends to lease.

GM quickly counterpunches at a following press conference, announcing that in January, Walt Disney Co. will take delivery of 10 Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles to shuttle Disney employees, celebrity talent and others within Disney-owned facilities in Southern California. The partnership opens the door to possible future activities between Chevrolet and Disney, the auto maker says.

Disney’s use of the vehicles is part of GM’s 30-month Project Driveway test, which will put GM’s fourth-generation hydrogen propulsion system, housed in a Chevrolet Equinox cross/utility vehicle, into the hands of hundreds of consumers in suburban Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

Unlike the Honda program, GM’s users will have free use of the vehicles for a period of three months, including the hydrogen fuel and insurance.

A GM spokesman says this type of program will enable the auto maker to put the vehicles into the hands of more real consumers and generate more feedback than Honda’s program.

But the competition seems to be a friendly one. More fuel-cell vehicles on the road likely will generate benefits for all, stimulating the installation of more hydrogen refueling stations and, hopefully, getting more consumers to believe in the future of hydrogen power, one industry source says.

dwinter@wardsauto.com