The FCX Clarity may look like a Honda - but it doesn't sound like one.

That's because it's an electric car, which generates its own electricity using an environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel cell.

"Zero carbon emissions. Zero smog tail pipe emissions and no dependence on oil," Honda marketing manager Stephen Ellis said.

Eight Honda Claritys are on the road in California, and over 200 are due over the next three years - part of an experiment to see if hydrogen fuel cells have a future in vehicles.

"This advances electric technology because it is an electric car, including lithium ion batteries," Ellis said.

It goes about 25 kilometres on the equivalent of one litre of gasoline. That's better than any of today's hybrids - but at what cost?

"We're leasing it for 600 dollars as month," Ellis said. "The dollar amount is kind of arbitrary, but it gives us experience on what people are willing to pay for a vehicle with these type of features."

The test price does not reflect the true cost of these vehicles - if they are ever mass produced, they will sell at the luxury end of the market.

Honda Canada executive vice-president Jerry Chenkin says building the vehicles isn't the biggest hurdle.

"The challenge will be the infrastructure to refuel the vehicles," he said.

Without hydrogen fueling stations, fuel cell vehicles are impractical. That's why Honda isn't backing any single technology.

"We're chasing several different alternatives, because nobody knows which one will actually be the most widely accepted in the end," Chenkin said.

Alternatives like the plug-in hybrid, such as the Chevy Volt, are ready for market. And at a cost far less than you could build a fuel cell vehicle for today.

Fuel cells can be found in things as small as forklifts and as large as back-up power stations - but that doesn't mean the hydrogen fuel cell will ever power your car.

There are still many hurdles to overcome, and many competing technologies.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen