By Nick Aziz
Thursday, Nov 15th, 2007 @ 3:02 pm
 
Honda today unveiled the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show, announcing plans to begin limited sales of the vehicle in summer 2008. The FCX Clarity is a hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle based on the new Honda V Flow fuel cell platform. It is powered by a compact fuel cell stack producing no emissions.



"The FCX Clarity is a shining symbol of the progress we've made with fuel cell vehicles and of our belief in the promise of this technology," said Tetsuo Iwamura, American Honda president and CEO. "Step by step, with continuous effort, commitment and focus, we are working to overcome obstacles to the mass-market potential of zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell automobiles."

The car has a range of 270 miles and fuel economy exceeding that of any similarly-sized hybrid or gasoline vehicle -- achieving an EPA certified 68 mpg. Fuel is stored in a 5,000-psi tank.

The FCX Clarity's only emission is water. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions come only from the production of hydrogen, which varies by source, However, Honda says the CO2 emissions involved in making hydrogen from natural gas are less than half that of a conventional gasoline vehicle. As if the FCX Clarity wasn't green enough, Honda will also be using fabrics made from plant-derived materials on the interior of the car.

Availability

American Honda plans to lease the FCX Clarity to a limited number of retail consumers in Southern California with the first deliveries taking place in summer 2008.

Full details of the lease program will be set closer to launch, but current plans call for a three-year lease term with a price of $600 per month, including maintenance and collision insurance. American Honda is also developing a service infrastructure for the cars.

When the FCX Clarity requires periodic maintenance, customers will schedule a visit with their local Honda dealer. American Honda will transport the vehicle to their fuel cell service facility, located in the greater Los Angeles area, where all required work will be performed. At the completion of the work, the customer will pick up their car from the dealer.

How It Works

The FCX Clarity utilizes Honda's V Flow stack in combination with a new compact and efficient lithium ion battery pack and a single hydrogen storage tank to power the vehicle's electric drive motor. The fuel cell stack operates as the vehicle's main power source, providing 100 Kilowatts of power for better mid and high range acceleration than previous iterations of the FCX. The FCX Clarity can also function in the high heat of Southern California, or in climates with temperatures as low as -22 Fahrenheit.

Additional energy captured through regenerative braking and deceleration is stored in the lithium ion battery pack, and used to supplement power from the fuel cell, when needed.

Honda says it has shed 400 lbs from previous fuel cell designs and the current fuel cell is 1/5 the size of the original design. What's more, the company says the entire fuel cell system is now comparable in size (volume) to a gasoline-hybrid setup. To help reduce assembly complication, Honda has also cut the number of parts used in the FCX Clarity by half.