28.10.2015Tokyo debut for Honda's Clarity Fuel Cell
Honda has officially unveiled its Clarity Fuel Cell model today (Wednesday 28th October) at the Tokyo Motor Show. Due for launch in Europe next year, the Clarity Fuel Cell is a hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle (FCV) that will challenge the recently released Toyota Mirai.
Although the Clarity Fuel Cell is not Honda's first production FCV, it is the first that will be readily available. Previously the FCX Clarity has been manufactured by Honda and leased to certain customers in specific markets. The Clarity Fuel Cell though will be available far more widely and, alongside the Mirai and Hyundai's ix35 FCV, will continue the expansion of hydrogen powered vehicles available to buy in the UK.
From the outset, Honda has been determined to make the Clarity Fuel Cell as normal as possible - barring the advanced propulsion unit. The fuel cell stack and power generation unit have been developed to be as compact as currently possible and fit in the equivalent space that a V6 engine would. This means that most of the car's working are up front, beneath the bonnet, freeing up interior space for passengers. The developments made by Honda have seen a 33 per cent reduction in physical size for the fuel cell stack, despite increasing power density by 60 per cent and raising the electric motor's power up to 130kW (177hp).
According to Honda, the Clarity Fuel Cell will have the best range in its class - though that only really puts it up against the Mirai. Nevertheless, a full tank of hydrogen will cover more than 435 miles and will only take a few minutes to fill up, the same sort of time as a conventional fuel tank. The biggest downside to FCVs currently is the lack of refuelling infrastructure, though that is continually growing with millions of pounds worth of investment from UK and European Governments.
The rest of the car is both normal and advanced at the same time. The design is brand new for Honda and is extremely aerodynamic, while the interior is a combination of current Honda interior elements with a cleanliness of design that seems to put the Clarity Fuel Cell up a class for Honda. With the cost expected to be in the region of Â£65,000 before any government incentives, that's probably a good job though. The Japanese market will get the Clarity Fuel Cell early next year, while Europe will have to wait until later in 2016 for order books to open.