Automotive

Honda’s new Clarity Fuel Cell is more like your car than ever before

Honda’s new Clarity Fuel Cell ...
At once contemporary and futuristic, the new Clarity Fuel Cell is Honda's vision for a hydrogen future
At once contemporary and futuristic, the new Clarity Fuel Cell is Honda's vision for a hydrogen future
View 15 Images
The fuel cell stack in the Clarity is about 33 percent more compact than its predecessor
1/15
The fuel cell stack in the Clarity is about 33 percent more compact than its predecessor
Two driving modes provide two distinct power curves for the Clarity on the road
2/15
Two driving modes provide two distinct power curves for the Clarity on the road
Honda envisions a modular Smart Hydrogen Station using high-pressure water electrolysis system as a compact, easy to set up option for H2 generation. The station supports sustainable energy and captures waste incineration heat to produce electricity.
3/15
Honda envisions a modular Smart Hydrogen Station using high-pressure water electrolysis system as a compact, easy to set up option for H2 generation. The station supports sustainable energy and captures waste incineration heat to produce electricity.
The Power Exporter 9000 works with a fully-fueled Clarity Fuel Cell car to provide power to the average home for up to 7 days during an emergency
4/15
The Power Exporter 9000 works with a fully-fueled Clarity Fuel Cell car to provide power to the average home for up to 7 days during an emergency
The electric motor, controllers, and other components of the drive system for the Clarity Fuel Cell are together more compact than the average four-cylinder engine
5/15
The electric motor, controllers, and other components of the drive system for the Clarity Fuel Cell are together more compact than the average four-cylinder engine
Inside, the Clarity Fuel Cell has a modern, spacious appeal
6/15
Inside, the Clarity Fuel Cell has a modern, spacious appeal
Adding to this interior feel is the smart seating arrangement, built around the powertrain’s requirements
7/15
Adding to this interior feel is the smart seating arrangement, built around the powertrain’s requirements
The front seats are low and sit atop the battery pack. The rear seating sits higher, giving more legroom and a better view, though it does likely infringe on headroom
8/15
The front seats are low and sit atop the battery pack. The rear seating sits higher, giving more legroom and a better view, though it does likely infringe on headroom
New exterior styling sheds the overly-futuristic look of the previous-generation Clarity
9/15
New exterior styling sheds the overly-futuristic look of the previous-generation Clarity
This new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is a much more contemporary sedan in its exterior look, though it retains elements that hint at its futuristic drivetrain
10/15
This new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is a much more contemporary sedan in its exterior look, though it retains elements that hint at its futuristic drivetrain
Unveiled on the show floor in Tokyo, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is striking
11/15
Unveiled on the show floor in Tokyo, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is striking
The rear of the Clarity Fuel Cell is streamlined and modern
12/15
The rear of the Clarity Fuel Cell is streamlined and modern
Few will argue with the beautiful lines that make up the new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell
13/15
Few will argue with the beautiful lines that make up the new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell
At once contemporary and futuristic, the new Clarity Fuel Cell is Honda's vision for a hydrogen future
14/15
At once contemporary and futuristic, the new Clarity Fuel Cell is Honda's vision for a hydrogen future
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is seen here with its compact Power Exporter 9000 unit for powering homes or offices in emergencies
15/15
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is seen here with its compact Power Exporter 9000 unit for powering homes or offices in emergencies

Honda has revealed the next-generation of its Clarity Fuel Cell sedan at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. While it represents the company's latest hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) developments, the Clarity Fuel Cell is in many ways more like your everyday car than any HFC has ever been before.

Until now, most HFC vehicles have been converting hydrogen to electricity in complex systems that often take up valuable passenger or cargo space in the car. The hydrogen (H2) storage cylinders used in these vehicles can be bulky, as can the fuel cell stacks themselves. Further, the refueling process, while faster than re-charging a large battery, has usually been relatively slow when compared to pumping gasoline.

The Clarity Fuel Cell changes that, Honda says. The new Clarity is a standard five-seat midsize sedan with all of the room and versatility that buyers in the segment expect. This despite being capable of carrying enough H2 to propel it for up to 700 km and requiring only three minutes to fill at a refueling station.

Few will argue with the beautiful lines that make up the new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell
Few will argue with the beautiful lines that make up the new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

It begins with the new exterior design of the car. A slightly larger, wider vehicle than its predecessor, the new Clarity also drops many of the previous-generation’s overdone futuristic styling cues. It keeps enough of them to remain recognizable for what it is, but the over-the-top front fascia and rear wheel skirts are now gone. They’ve been replaced by a bold, but still contemporary styling that remains dramatic without being overpowering.

Inside, the Clarity Fuel Cell has a modern, spacious appeal. The dashboard is lifted and pushed back, a common theme in today’s sedans, and the use of color and tone as well as sharp-angled, thin pillars opens up the interior. Of note here are the large information screen at the center of the dashboard, the much-diminished center console for improved legroom, and the extensive use of glass for an airy appeal.

Adding to this interior feel is the smart seating arrangement, built around the powertrain’s requirements
Adding to this interior feel is the smart seating arrangement, built around the powertrain’s requirements

Adding to this interior feel is the smart seating arrangement, built around the powertrain’s requirements. The front seats are low and sit atop the battery pack. The rear seating sits higher, giving more legroom and a better view, though it does likely infringe on headroom. This accommodates the hydrogen storage tanks beneath, occupying the space where the gasoline fuel tank in a traditional automobile would normally be.

This means that the trunk space is not compromised by extra hydrogen storage (a second tank sits where the rear axle would normally be) and the fuel cell stack and motors that power the car are located under the hood instead of in the center of the car. This allows a balance of weight distribution as well.

This design is possible because of several upgrades to the hydrogen fuel cell technology involved. The new fuel cell stack is much smaller and more power dense than it was before, giving up to 100 or more kilowatts of output. Its density is rated at 3.1 kW per liter. That’s a 33 percent reduction in size compared to the outgoing generation of the Clarity, Honda says.

The fuel cell stack in the Clarity is about 33 percent more compact than its predecessor
The fuel cell stack in the Clarity is about 33 percent more compact than its predecessor

The hydrogen fuel used in the stack is stored at 70 MPa (10,153 psi) and the total storage capacity within the Clarity Fuel Cell gives the car a range of over 700 kilometers (435 miles). Fueling time is about three minutes from empty. These metrics make it equivalent to most gasoline vehicles of the same size.

In driving, though, Honda says that the Clarity Fuel Cell is much sportier than its gasoline rivals. Its high output motor can deliver up to 130 kW (174 hp) of power to the drive wheels and because it has no need for gearing, torque is at maximum at all times without any jerky gear shifts. Throttle response is unimpeded by fuel delivery and burning requirements, making it nearly instantaneous. A driver-selectable two-mode system allows for Normal driving, balancing performance and economy, and Sport, which prioritizes acceleration.

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is seen here with its compact Power Exporter 9000 unit for powering homes or offices in emergencies
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is seen here with its compact Power Exporter 9000 unit for powering homes or offices in emergencies

In emergency need situations, the Clarity Fuel Cell and its on-board hydrogen and fuel cell stack can be utilized as an emergency generator. A lightweight external power supply not unlike a standard generator can be employed for this. The Power Exporter 9000 takes the Clarity’s power output and converts it to usable standard AC power for a home or office. According to Honda, a fully-fueled Clarity could power the average home for about a week.

Honda says that the technologies seen in the Clarity Fuel Cell will proliferate to other vehicles in their lineup over time. The system is compact enough and modular enough to be used with most vehicle platforms. The new-generation Clarity Fuel Cell will be commercially available in select markets soon.Source: Honda

12 comments
Brendan Dunphy
'According to Honda, a fully-fueled Clarity could power the average home for about a week.' If true, this opens-up interesting possibilities to use the car for load-balancing for off-grid homes using solar, wind and other renewables.
Yasha
Looks interesting and ugly
jabloy61
My electricy bill is about $12 a week in the summer, and $80 in the winter. At a calculated $50 a week for what this car would provide... if I can swap gasoline AND home electricity for this car, at a reasonable retail price, give me a home-based hydrogen station and I am hooked.
Freyr Gunnar
Since hydrogen is currently extraced from natural gas, which can also be used to power cars… what's the point of the extra steps (natgas → hydrogen → engine)?
Catweazle
Nasty stuff high pressure hydrogen. Difficult to store, difficult to transport and explosive in air over a very wide concentration range. And expensive too of course, as no current method of production has anything close to a decent efficiency factor.
Cyndy
Dumb on several levels. New batteries will have short recharge times. A 10-15 recharging time would not inconvenience anyone. Hydrogen is a bad choice because of the high cost of installing it in enough fueling stations and it's fools gold without the gold. Hydrogen prices can seesaw up and down but I suspect it would be mostly up. Electric cars can be charged at home and a home can have a photovoltaic system to keep the cost of (Fuel) down and guard against rate hikes for the car and home. Hydrogen fails to offer this option. Hydrogen puts fuel costs squarely in big business hands Electric puts the cost of fuel in the owners if they choose it. Honda must be bored and needs to create "Something" but this is a strike out.
voluntaryist
I agree with Cindy. Moreover, since hydrogen is not produced at home, we are dependent on govt./big business. What could go wrong? Oh, wait, everything. I want off grid, off taxes and regulations, off of big brother's radar. Producing my own electricity to fuel my needs is a step in that direction. I would pay a little extra at first to be more independent (less slave). How can you put a price of self determination, freedom? Live and let live (let others put their faith in govt.), I put my confidence in private enterprise.
Stephen N Russell
Just need more H2 stations then were good to Go same for EV charging centers.
antiguajohn98
Hydrogen cars are a Rube Goldberg device that violates the KISS principle. You first have to spend energy to make the hydrogen then you ave to store - transport - store again and have a manned service point. On the other and with an EV you generate electricity send it over power lines to an unmanned station and furthermore I do believe electricity moves slightly faster than hydrogen by truck. Scientia Non Domus (Knowledge has No Home) antiguajohn
DFrancis
As much as I prefer series-hybrid designs like the Clarity and i3, perhaps HFC technology would be better used as a means of storing unused energy from the ever-increasing number of solar PV installations. PV won't help when the lights go out (due to idiotic government legislation), but it could if the energy can be stored by splitting methane (perhaps generated from anaerobic digestion) or water.