Revolutionary Clean Machine

One of Honda's new super-clean emission cars due to be released later this year
It looks like any other smog-producing car engine, but, as CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, researchers in California say this new design could actually improve the nation's air quality.

From the time you start it there's almost no pollution because the combustion is extremely clean.

The new, cleaner cars will be rolled out by Honda and Nissan later this year and what's remarkable is that these are normal gas engines that spit out fewer emissions than California's tough, trend-setting standards demand.

Dr. Joe Norbeck of U.C. Riverside says, "The combination of a very clean fuel with a very clean engine and the emission control system on it can actually provide emission levels that are pretty close to zero."

That's close enough for automakers who prefer the internal combustion engine to expensive alternative technologies.

As Karl Brauer, editor of, explains, "It is important to automakers because they can meet the near zero emissions without going to fuel cells or electric technology."

The engines still produce CO2 - a greenhouse gas - and they require a low-sulfur gasoline blend available only in California and a few other states, but in 2004 federal law calls for low-sulfur gas nationwide.

That may cause a small hike in pump prices. The new engine technology won't help with that.

Brauer says, "It has little to do with fuel efficiency and gas mileage which are much more related to our dependency on the Middle East and oil supplies."

However, there are fears the engines will prolong that dependence on fossil fuels and delay the introduction of even cleaner technologies.

MMII, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved