2017 HONDA CLARITY FUEL CELL FIRST LOOK
2017 HONDA CLARITY FUEL CELL FIRST LOOK BY AUTO CRITIC STEVE HAMMES
Gas, diesel, hybrid, plug-in and all-electric…consumers have more choices as to how their car works than ever before. But what about hydrogen? Though it’s currently only available in a handful of locations, automakers such as Honda see it as a viable alternative fuel going forward.
They’ve been researching hydrogen fuel cells since the late 1980s and began leasing a 4-passenger hydrogen-powered sedan in 2008 called the FCX Clarity. Now with another decade of experience under their belt, Honda offers the new and improved 2017 Clarity; the world’s first 5-seat fuel cell sedan with an EPA range rating of 366 miles, the longest of any zero emissions vehicle.
These substantial advancements in usability have been achieved by making the fuel cell stack smaller combined with a drive unit also reduced in size. Additionally, the hydrogen refueling time has been reduced to just 3-5 minutes creating a car that’s as easy to use as any conventional engine vehicle. A Fuel Cell Vehicle generates electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen inside its fuel cell allowing a chemical reaction to take place. Benefits include zero emissions plus a smooth and quiet driving experience that is also highly responsive due to the electric motor.
In the new Clarity, the entire fuel cell powertrain is placed under the front hood to expand the cabin space. Luggage capacity has also increased by optimally positioning the double hydrogen tank configuration forward and low in the vehicle. Cargo carrying capacity is similar to an Accord Hybrid.
Paired to a lithium ion battery which stores the electricity, the Clarity Fuel Cell delivers 221 pound-feet of torque and 174 horsepower. Top speed is 103mph. Its fuel economy equivalent rating is 68mpg in combined city and highway driving with an estimated annual fuel cost of $1,250. One kg of hydrogen is roughly equivalent to 1 gallon of gas.
Available exclusively as a $369/month 3-year lease at select California Honda dealers, the Clarity Fuel Cell comes with a number of perks such as a fuel card good for up to $15,000 worth of hydrogen, the coveted HOV sticker allowing the use of designated HOV lanes even if you’re driving alone, an up to $5,000 government rebate, the use of a luxury vehicle for up to 21 days during the lease for times when traveling out of state, and the HondaLink App equipped with Station Finder.
Don’t live in California? Don’t worry. A plug-in hybrid and an electric model will complete the Clarity trifecta later this year.