Whether or not someone agrees, future of motoring lies in electricity. Elon Musk, owner of Tesla knows that Toyota knows that and Honda also knows. But at some point, there might be “war” going on in which way will those electric motors be powered, by a battery or hydrogen fuel cell. After first FCX Clarity comes first generation 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Like its predecessor it also uses high-compressed hydrogen which in combination with oxygen is converted to electricity to power the motor. While this is one way to power the motor, Tesla’s owner disagrees calling this method bullsh*t. Toyota immediately took the opportunity to mock him. You can see it in the video at the end of this post. Clarity will also be available as an all-electric and plug-in hybrid coming in 2017.
We hope that the new Clarity will be more successful than its predecessor which sales we could count on fingers on both of our hands. It’s not about the looks of the car or poor performance, it’s about poor hydrogen fueling network. Those are still few, and they are expensive to build. But nevertheless, their numbers grow.
2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell – Design
While we’re at looks, 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell really looks good. Grille consists of two parts of mesh which are nicely divided by a chrome strip that goes across it and ends above the ultra thin inline LED headlights. While we’re at it, rear lights are also LED. Below the headlights, there is jaw-like chrome insert which ends in the lower portion. The chrome also visible above the side windows as it stretches from A to C pillar. On the side, there are 18-inch wheels with an aerodynamic design to help cool the brakes. The rear end holds lip spoiler to round up the looks. When summed up, with its streamlined shape to boost aerodynamics, Clarity looks good. The whole design is done in a way to reduce air drag as much as possible. It certainly looks better than Prius.
The small downside of the design as one random internet traveler brought out are rear wheel fenders. “Could Honda please open up those rear wheel arches so I can get my sponge in there to wash them down properly without having to take the wheels off?” It comes in three colors, Bordeaux Red metallic, White Orchid Pearl, and Crystal Black Pearl. Honda used high-strength steel with aluminum body panels to be light and rigid at the same time. While this sedan is 193 inches long, similar to Accord, thus providing plenty of space inside.
2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell – Interior
On the inside, the design doesn’t derive too much from other vehicles in Honda’s lineup. But there are some noticeable details that tell us that future is here. The instrument panel is more futuristic with emphasize on energy focused layout. There is no shift knob on the center console, only four buttons P (park), R (reverse), N (neutral), and D (drive). The buttons on the steering wheel are touch-sensitive allowing easier to answer calls, adjust volume and access car information. Behind the wheel, there is advanced driver interface. Honda also uses Plasmacluster® Ion technology to improve air quality on microbiological level destroying germs and odors.
The interior is full of soft-touch materials. Seating for five occupants is wrapped in leather with fine detailed stitching. What would a car be without cup holders? While in most cars, those come in standard dimensions, Clarity has customizable cupholders which can securely fit various beverages. With tank for hydrogen gas, much like with LPG system, trunk space was sacrificed, but Honda engineers managed to pull 11.8 cubic feet of space.
2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell – Powertrain
2017 Clarity Fuel Cell should drive like all-electric vehicle. Its electric motor produces 174 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. The fuel cell stack along PCU (power control unit) is located under the hood while in the tunnel below the cabin there is li-ion battery behind which sole purpose is capturing energy from braking or unused energy generated from fuel cell stack. Front-wheel drive is the only layout, but far more interesting is the range. Honda claims that Clarity fuel cell will have a 366-mile range on the full tank. And that’s more than any other battery electric vehicle. It takes only three to five minutes to fully fill the tank and it’s quite easy, as you can see below. With only water coming out of the exhaust pipes this model has zero emissions.
Current hydrogen cost is $13-$16 per kilogram. One kilogram has about the same density as one gallon of gasoline, but the fuel cell is more than two times more efficient than the standard combustion engine. Thus electric motor only needs half the amount of hydrogen than gasoline engine needs gas. The U.S. Department of Energy wants to cut down the cost of hydrogen fuel (including production and delivery) to under $4/kilogram by 2020.
2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell – Price
New 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell went on sale in December 2016 and it’s reserved for a couple of hundreds of Californians that have hydrogen fueling station within 10 miles radius. And the price for this sedan is $60.000. Clarity will certainly be more successful when networks of refueling stations get more volume across the U.S. But let’s not forget there will also be Clarity all-electric and plug-in hybrid. Main competitors are Chevrolet Bolt EV, BMW i3, and Ford Focus Electric.
And now for the promised laughs.