Honda Motor (NYSE:HMC) took the lead again this week, introducing a technology that "provides greater safety in collisions between vehicles of differing size and weight." Adding this to its safety for everyone campaign -- even drivers of small cars -- gets you a company trying to be the best.

Honda and Toyota Motors (NYSE:TM) have also heard President Bush's call to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Both offer hybrids boasting extremely high gas mileage. Since transportation consumes a majority of our oil imports, the new Honda Insight's 60/66 mpg rating should please the president.

Honda is also an innovator in fuel cells, and its FCX fuel cell car is already running the streets in Japan and Los Angeles.

General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F), and DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX) have not followed Honda's lead. GM and Daimler have basically said, "The fuel cell is it" and plan to introduce hybrids in 2007 -- because right now, they don't make economic sense.

Ford, having tried to introduce a hybrid-based Escape, has been delayed until 2004 by technical problems. Problems that further highlight Honda's technical prowess.

Meanwhile, Honda doesn't hesitate to get third-party help. The Honda FCX uses a Ballard Systems (NASDAQ:BLDP) fuel cell. Honda sincerely wanted to get the car, and its all-electric components, on the road and tested. Ford and Damiler, large shareholders in Ballard, have not been so aggressive.

Already, the markets have rewarded Toyota shareholders. The number three global automobile company's $107 billion market capitalization dwarfs the $81 billion combined market caps of GM, Daimler, and Ford.

At a relatively modest 11 times earnings, Honda is looking good -- the company and the stock. It's in great shape to use its technology and vision to the benefit of long-term shareholders.

W.D. Crotty is taking a hard look at Honda. You can reach W.D. at HawaiiFool@hawaii.com .

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