2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan: High Hopes, High Stakes
Honda will introduce the 2017 Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell sedan by the end of this year in select markets in USA, with a monthly lease programme for customer to start with. The car is expected to delivery an impressive driving range of above 300 miles (482 kms) with a refuelling time of just three to five minutes using a 70 MPa refuelling stations. Honda is betting higher stakes with this car since the Clarity sedan is capable of bringing in more customer interest on hydrogen-powered cars that can be tapped to establish a market in future.
The Clarity will be launched only in the Californian market like Los Angeles, Orange County, Sacramento, and San Francisco Bay regions, owing to established hydrogen-refuelling infrastructure. The 5-seater sedan will compete against the likes of 2016 Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell – the only other fuel cell cars that are available under retail leasing to customers in the Californian region. The ‘Fuel Cell trio’ companies will gradually move towards retail sales once the hydrogen station networks expand to other areas and demand increases.
Honda claims that the new Clarity Fuel Cell features a fuel cell stack that is 33 percent more compact and 60 percent better in power density, against its predecessor – the outgoing Honda FCX Clarity. The compactness results in better packaging under hood and spacious cabin with 5-passenger seating capacity (unlike Toyota Mirai’s 4 seats). The two hydrogen fuel tanks with compressed pressure up to 10,000 psi are placed beneath the rear seat and between the rear wheels. There is also lithium-ion battery pack located on the floor to complement the power generation via fuel cells.
The traction motor of the Clarity is claimed to produce max power of 174 hp and 300 Nm of torque that can make the sedan to hit 0-100 kmph in less than 9 seconds. The sedan is expected to deliver more than 300 miles (482 kms) of driving range for sure as per EPA rating, while the less-stringent Japanese driving cycle rating is 434 miles. The range is definitely decent and matches with Toyota Mirai’s 312 miles (500 kms) EPA rating.
The Clarity sedan, revealed early this year, features lower stance and wider body with clean character lines. The design is aerodynamically-tuned for lower drag co-efficient, also differentiating the fuel cell car visually with futuristic feeling. The interiors are again high-quality and well-equipped, including a host of safety and driver-assist techs, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Honda will also introduce Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in Hybrid models in the months to come, and will be ready for commercial sales by next year in USA.