Honda announced on Monday that its new Honda Clarity fuel-cell vehicle will provide an estimated 366 miles of driving range on a single tank of hydrogen, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The agency also rated the Clarity’s efficiency at the equivalent of 68 miles per gallon of gasoline. The Honda Clarity joins the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell to become the third mass-produced hydrogen-powered vehicle available in the United States.
Honda said the Clarity will officially launch “later this year,” but has not yet specified a date or an exact price. Analysts speculate that the Clarity will sell for around $60,000—and become available for a lease price around $400 a month. The Clarity will be offered at six locations in Southern California, five in the San Francisco Bay Area and one in Sacramento. Honda is following a strategy employed by Toyota, in which cars are sold only where hydrogen fueling infrastructure is readily available.
Today, there are 21 retail hydrogen stations in operation in California. That’s a significant increase compared to the beginning of 2016, when only 12 stations were available to fuel-cell car drivers in the state. By the end of this year, there will be about 27 hydrogen refueling locations open to the public, with 49 stations expected before the end of 2017. All new stations added to the network are now designed for retail use by drivers of passenger cars, not commercial vehicles or transit buses.
The Clarity’s range of 366 miles exceeds the Toyota Mirai’s 312 miles on a single tank, while handily beating the 265 miles provided by the Tucson Fuel Cell.
Honda has been one of the key automakers leading the industry in development and deployment of fuel-cell vehicle technology. The company introduced the FCX in 2002, followed by its second-generation hydrogen-powered sedan—the FCX Clarity—in 2008.
The fuel-cell stack in the new Clarity is 33 percent more compact than its predecessor with a 60 percent increase in power density compared to the outgoing model. The smaller fuel cell and integrated powertrain is comparable in size to a V-6 engine. It fits entirely under the hood of the car, allowing for a cabin with seating for five passengers.
“Not only does the Clarity Fuel Cell fit five passengers and refuel in three to five minutes, it offers customers a driving range on par with gasoline-powered cars,” said Steve Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “The Clarity leads the pack with a 366 mile driving range rating, and with a growing network of hydrogen stations and fast fueling time, the zero-emissions family road trip is no longer science fiction.”
Honda unveiled the production version of the Clarity in 2015 at the 44th Toyota Motor Show. The styling has been compared to Honda’s Crosstour model. The Honda Clarity model is also expected to be offered in the future with pure battery-electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains.