Honda March 15, 2017

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Honda introduced the FCX, the world’s first production fuel cell vehicle, in 2002 and began leasing the model to a few individual retail customers in 2005. When it was discontinued in 2014, Hyundai was bringing out its Tucson Fuel Cell, and Toyota was gearing up to launch its own dedicated hydrogen car, the Mirai. The first new models were delivered to customers in December, and it’s good timing for Honda. The dash itself is right in step with other current Honda models, although the instrument panel itself offers a more futuristic, energy-focused layout, and trims and door handles do offer a futuristic departure from Honda’s other production models.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Exterior and Interior

The 2017 Honda Clarity is effectively a size larger than the model of the same name that was made some years ago. At around 193 inches long about the same as the Honda Accord mid-size sedan the Clarity looks, at first glance, like it’s evolved from near-equal influences from that former fuel-cell model, the Honda Insight hybrid, and the Honda Accord Crosstour fastback.

The ‘kammback’ design of the Clarity is familiar to those who’ve long followed high-efficiency green cars; the rakish fastback profile has a bit of a lift, with a prominent lip spoiler at the tail. The Clarity includes lightweight aerodynamic wheels, underbody aero panels and due to the tougher sightlines that the upkick in back introduces an extra rear window to help with rear visibility and help allow a larger trunk.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Inside, the Clarity’s passenger space is divided into four spaces, one for each occupant, with the fuel-cell stack’s tunnel creating dividing the cabin down the middle. A small shifter allows easy fingertip selection of forward, reverse, neutral, or park modes through a shift by wire system. The dash itself is right in step with other current Honda models, although the instrument panel itself offers a more futuristic, energy-focused layout, and trims and door handles do offer a futuristic departure from Honda’s other production models.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Under on Hood

the Clarity Fuel Cell is powered by an electric motor system, making 174 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, and driving the front wheels. The electricity that powers it comes from a fuel cell, but it’s managed by a sophisticated system that includes a lithium-ion battery pack.

To dig a little more into the science, a hydrogen fuel-cell stack, which incorporates many layers of proton exchange membrane cells, connected in series, to produce a high-voltage output. In these cells, hydrogen gas is passed over the electrode, generating an electron in a reaction with platinum used in the electrode.

The 2017 Honda Clarity uses Honda’s latest version of its so-called V Flow fuel-cell stack, packaged in the vehicle’s center tunnel, while the new lithium-ion battery pack fits under the rear seat. With this generation of the fuel-cell stack V is for vertical orientation Honda has introduced a vertical cell stack, for greater stability, improved cooling, and reduced size and weight.

The fuel cell runs most of the time that the vehicle is moving; meanwhile, a lithium-ion battery pack helps capture energy from braking or unused energy created by the fuel cell and stores it away, to be released when it’s needed for efficiency or sudden power demands.

While we haven’t yet driven the new Clarity Fuel Cell, we expect it to drive much like an electric car with just a bit of background hum from the compressors that feed the fuel cells. Acceleration and performance are likened to that of a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline vehicle of the same size, while the instantaneous torque delivery of this model’s electric motor system should make it feel particularly confident from a standing start.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Prices

Honda hasn’t announced a European on-sale date, let alone a price – but around 200 examples will be leased in Japan next year. The nominal figure for the car is 7.66 million Yen, or around ₤ 42,000, but that will simply be divided by the length of the lease. A 48-month deal, as was common with the few FCX Clarity cars that were leased, should cost around ₤ 875 per month in Japan.

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