Honda, having realized that hydrogen represents a potential solution to solving some of society’s negative environmental issues, has created the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell project, focusing on hydrogen technologies to produce, use and connect hydrogen, along with the development of hydrogen refueling stations and power export devices in the interest of realizing an enriched and sustainable society. In addition to the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle, Honda will soon be adding to the same platform by producing a Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-In vehicle allowing consumers to choose from the three, which vehicle best suits their needs. Fuel Cell vehicles currently have the greatest long-term potential to solve society’s environmental and energy concerns.
The new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan utilizes Hydrogen, which has the potential to realize and fulfill the requirements of an energy sustainable society. Hydrogen can be produced in many different ways, reflecting the geographical characteristics and unique weather of various regions and establishing an ideal hydrogen cycle independent of fossil fuel. It is possible to produce, store and transport hydrogen, ready for conversion into electricity until needed. Hydrogen may be produced at space-saving, easily installed smart hydrogen stations utilizing solar power and other methods.
The key to the popularization and practicality of FCVs has been the evolution of Fuel Cell stacks, which efficiently convert hydrogen to electricity. The Clarity Fuel Cells are 33 percent smaller than previous models, and provide world-leading output densities of 3.1 kW/L.
The 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle is the world’s first five-passenger FCV sedan, providing universal values in a package with a futuristic appeal. The goal is to have two-thirds of Honda’s global sales made up of electrified vehicles by 2030.
In the interest of the advancement of fuel cell technology, Honda has entered a joint venture with General Motors – Fuel Cell Systems Manufacturing, LLC, which launches in 2020.
There are currently 16 hydrogen-refueling stations in California and Nevada – 10 in the SF Bay area/Sacramento/Reno areas with 18 additional stations planned for 2017 and 2018. Sixteen refueling stations are located in Santa Barbara/L.A. and San Diego, also with an additional 16 scheduled for 2017 and 2018.
Honda’s Fuel Cell development began with basic research in the late 1980s, and has been progressing steadily ever since, with the World’s first FCV for U.S. certified commercial use – the 2003 Honda FCX. Individual customer leasing came with the 2005 FCX, followed by the 2008 FCX Clarity individual leasing in the U.S. and Japan.
The focus of the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is to offer universal value and futuristic appeal though more intelligent and efficient packaging, appealing design and satisfying performance. It provides the World’s first Fuel Cell powertrain positioned beneath the hood of a sedan. The compact powertrain is equivalent to a V6 powertrain. It is a Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) 103kW power output / 33 liter / 114 lbs / Lithium-Ion Battery – 346 volts, with an operating range from122 degrees F to 221 degrees F, coupled with an AC Permanent-Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor that produces 174 horsepower in an rpm range from 4,501-9028 while developing 221 pound feet of torque from 0-3,500 rpm. Motive force is delivered from the front mounted engine to the front drive wheels via a fixed single speed direct drive transmission with Normal and Sport mode and Shift-by-wire. Maximum speed is 103 mph.
The new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan is currently only available through a 3-year lease program at $369. per month with $2,868 due at signing. The lease includes an initial $15,000. fuel allowance (a 20,000 mile per year mileage limitation), a $5,000 CA state rebate and a 21-day luxury car rental.
There are two fuel tanks – a 24-liter front and 117-liter rear (an increase of 39 percent over the previous), both constructed of carbon fiber-wrapped aluminum. The total Compressed Gaseous Hydrogen tank capacity is 5.46 kg with a fuel tank pressure of 70MPa / 10,000 psi. The average range is 366 miles, with EPA Mileage Estimates (MPGe) of 69 mpg city / 67 mpg highway / 68 mpg combined.
Average fuel cost ranges from $10. to $16. per kg and the refueling time is only a matter of minutes.
Visually, the exterior design presents a low, wide stance with crisp lines on a boldly athletic and elegantly aerodynamic form. The sedan’s blacked out “B” and “C” pillars deliver a coupe-like impression, and the Clarity is the World’s first vehicle with functional air curtain ducts on the rear doors.
Moving to the inside, the interior may be likened to a modern lounge that blends advanced technologies and luxurious comfort. A Digital Graphic Meter is positioned ahead of the driver that informs of the high-voltage battery level, fuel level, a power/charge meter and a fuel cell electricity generation monitor. A highly visible, 8-inch HD touch audio display panel provides communication, telematics connectivity and infotainment features with Apple CarPlay and androidauto. Remote access to information and certain functions is available via HondaLink™ through smartphones.
This latest iteration Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan is available in three exterior finishes – Crystal Black Pearl, White Orchid Pearl and Bordeaux Red metallic. There are two interior colors – Platinum Grey leather and Black leather. Standard features include: Smart Start and Entry, Remote Start, Navigation with H2station info, HUD, 12-speaker Premium Audio, Dual-zone Auto A/C, Large 8.0” Display Audio, Bluetooth, 2-USB Audio Interface ports, Pandora/SMS capability, XM and HD radio, Heated front seats, Backup Camera, steering wheel audio controls, cruise control, HomeLink and TFT gauge cluster. Safety elements include: Honda Sensing™, LaneWatch™, VSA, side curtain airbags, side SRS and knee airbags. The exterior and interior features are extensive and standard as well.
My test 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan wore an exterior finish of Crystal Black Pearl, with the interior executed in Platinum Grey leather.
SUMMARY: The aerodynamic styling execution of the new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is that of a traditional contemporary sedan, rather than some freak of automotive design. The form displays a bold and athletic, yet slippery overall form with a nod to the future, and elegance added for good measure. The use of quality materials and attention to fit and finish details lend an upscale air.
Comfort and luxury abound as far as the cabin ambience is concerned, with ample head and legroom fore and aft. Handling characteristics lean to the sporty side, with a positive steering feel and flat stable ride even during more spirited maneuvers. Acceleration is brisk off the line, with more than adequate power.
The content is most impressive on all levels from safety to comfort and convenience, as well as performance. Driving the Clarity Fuel Cell is really no different from piloting a gasoline-fueled vehicle in terms of feel. It maximizes man and minimizes machine.
In the final analysis, Hydrogen is clearly the ideal sustainable fuel source, particularly with the infrastructure for refueling growing by leaps and bounds. And while I personally prefer ownership to leasing, (which I’m sure will become possible at some point in the not too distant future) the leasing format, which is renewable by the way, makes the most sense from Honda’s perspective for the time being.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan
Base Price: $58,490. If for Sale
Price as Tested: $59,365. If for Sale- $369.00 per month lease / currently 36 months Lease only availability.
Engine Type and Size: Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) 103kW power output / 33 liter / 114 lbs / Lithium-Ion Battery – 346 volts. Operating range 122 degrees F to 221 degrees F.
AC Permanent-Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor
Horsepower (bhp): 174 @ 4,501-9028 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 221 @ 0-3,500 rpm
Transmission: Fixed single speed direct drive with Sport mode and
Drive Train: Front mounted engine ‘ Front-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – McPherson struts with 30 mm tubular stabilizer bar.
Rear – Multi-link with 21.7 mm tubular stabilizer bar.
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front) with ABS, EBD, BA, and VSA with Traction Control.
Tires: Michelin Energy Saver A/S 235/45 R18 94V mounted on Hybrid Aerodynamic 5 swirl-spoke alloy wheels with machine surface and Black Painted inners.
Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
Length Overall: 192.7 inches
Width: 73.9 inches
Height: 58.2 inches
Curb Weight: 4,134 lbs.
Turning Circle: 38.4 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 5.46 kg – Fuel Tank Pressure – 70 MPa / 10,000 psi
Fuel: Compressed Gaseous Hydrogen.
EPA Mileage Estimates: MPGe 69 mpg city / 67 mpg highway / 68 mpg combined.
Drag Coefficient: Not listed.
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.
• Styling – 5 Stars
• Performance – 5 Stars
• Ride and Handling – 5 Stars
• Utility – 5 Stars
• Comfort and Convenience – 5 Stars
• Economy – 5 Stars
• Value and Competition – 4.5 Stars
Summary – 4.92 Stars
The 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Sedan scores a lot of firsts in its makeup. It comfortably seats 5 adults, hold 3 golf bags, is easy to refuel and delivers exemplary fuel economy. Performance and Handling characteristics are pleasing and the vehicle leads the way to sustainable travel once the infrastructure is fully in place.