We’re behind the wheel of the all-new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, driving the future while recalling images of the past. That’s because Green Car Journal has been following Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell program now for some 15 years.
During this time there was never a doubt that Honda could achieve its goal in developing a production fuel cell vehicle powered by hydrogen. This automaker already proved it could build and sell another gaseous fuel model – the Civic Natural Gas – that ran as seamlessly as a more conventional gasoline-powered Civic. Hydrogen is just another fuel in gaseous form, right?
Ah, but hydrogen. This zero-emission fuel is more of a challenge since hydrogen wouldn’t be used in an internal combustion Honda engine, but rather in a fuel cell powerplant to electrochemically create electricity, without combustion or emissions. This electricity would provide energy to power electric motors, no differently than in a battery electric vehicle. Make no mistake that this is a very advanced powertrain technology…a future technology, aimed at today.
There have been many developmental milestones along the way. The Honda FCX developmental vehicle we drove at Sears Point Raceway in 2003 offered proof that Honda was up to the challenge. Testing the FCX Clarity Concept at Laguna Seca Raceway in 2006 showed how quickly Honda’s fuel cell vehicle development could progress in a short time.
The all-new 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell is the finished product, currently available in California at a $369 per month lease that includes up to $15,000 of hydrogen fuel. It features an aerodynamic and stylish design nuanced with futuristic touches like angled rear wheel side skirts and eye-catching LED exterior lighting, combined with a pleasing cabin and significant on-board tech. Its new fuel cell powertrain is substantially evolved from earlier iterations and offers an impressive 366 mile driving range. Importantly, Clarity Fuel Cell delivers satisfying driving dynamics that made us smile during our recent seat time on twisty roads and highways on California’s Central Coast.
Apparently, the future has arrived.