Honda Clarity FCV Debuts With Japan Launch Set For 2016

The upcoming launch of the Honda Clarity doesn’t mark the brand’s introduction into the fuel cell vehicle category, but a continuation.

Drawing on the 2008-to-present FCX Clarity, Honda retained a portion of its original fuel cell vehicle’s (FCV) name and the four-door sedan layout. But the new Clarity – which debuted this week at the Tokyo Motor Show – demonstrates significant improvements.

Two of its top attributes are the Clarity’s size and range. Honda estimates the production-ready Clarity can drive up to 435 miles with a full tank, with a refueling time of about 3 minutes. That’s significantly farther than two other FCVs currently available in the U.S. market: the 312-mile Toyota Mirai and the 265-mile Honda Tucson Fuel Cell.

Honda adds that it didn’t have to sacrifice cabin space to achieve this range, thanks to a new, more compact powertrain.

“Honda’s original wave flow channel separators are more advanced than ever, while the cells now feature a higher output and a more slender shape thanks to a 1 millimeter (20 percent) reduction in the thickness of each cell,” explained Honda.

The Clarity’s fuel cell stack “was downsized by 33 percent compared to the previous version of the fuel cell stack and yet output of more than 100 kilowatts and output density of 3.1k kilowatt per liter – approximately a 60 percent improvement – were achieved,” Honda said. “The fuel cell powertrain was made as compact as a V6 engine, and thus it was made possible to consolidate it under the hood of a sedan-type vehicle for the first time in the world. This powertrain layout enabled a full cabin package that seats five adults comfortably.”

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The Clarity will go on sale in Japan next March and will only be offered as a lease. While pricing may vary depending on the lease terms, the Clarity’s price (including a consumption tax) is set at 7.66 million yen ($63,371). Honda noted that initially, both production and sales of the Clarity will be limited.

“For the first year after the start of sales in Japan, Honda will focus on sales mainly to local government bodies or business customers which Honda has already been working together for the popularization of FCVs,” the company said. “During this period, Honda will collect information about the in-market use situation, including the external power feeding device, and gather diverse opinions from customers and other relevant organizations, then later begin sales to individual customers.”

Lease sales are set to begin later in 2016 for select European markets. While previous reports have said Honda would bring it to the U.S., the automaker has not in recent news discussed when this might be.