Green Car Journal’s recent drive of Honda’s new Clarity Fuel Cell in Los Angeles delivered what we expect from Honda. Simply, our experience with this sleek and high-tech hydrogen sedan during the Green Car Tour ride-and-drive at GreenBuild 2017 underscored how seamless Honda has made driving a hydrogen powered electric vehicle. Now, others are enjoying the experience as well since the first retail deliveries of Honda’s third-generation Clarity Fuel Cell model have taken place in Southern California. This marks yet another milestone for this automaker as it sets its sights on growing a hydrogen vehicle market.
According to Steve Center, vice-president of American Honda’s Environmental Development Office, this is just the beginning as Honda continues to roll out the new Clarity series of electrified vehicles. Based on an earlier discussion at the LA Auto Show with Honda public relations lead Sage Marie, plus reading between the lines of previous announcements, it’s expected that the present ‘world’ Clarity FCEV will serve as the manufacturing platform for Honda’s electrified lineup including, but not limited to, a plug-in gasoline/electric hybrid, an extended range stand-alone battery EV, and eventually an electrified crossover or SUV offering. While looking at the futuristic body line of this production five-passenger fuel cell electric vehicle, we are in fact also looking at Honda’s near-future autonomous driving design directive.Dictated by low-drag aerodynamics and inspired by the ‘folded wings of a bird,’ the Clarity brings an eye pleasing and futuristic four-door, five-passenger sedan to the world of hydrogen fueled electric cars and SUVs. Clarity begins with specifically compounded low friction tires, aerodynamic wheels, and slip-stream designed roof and side panels engaged to reduce fuel consumption and maximize the power generated through Clarity’s efficient hydrogen fuel cell generator. With a range of 366 miles between fill ups, the Clarity features greater electric-drive range than Tesla’s Model S.
Thanks to Honda’s downsized yet super-efficient hydrogen fuel cell, Clarity also comes to market with greater interior passenger volume and trunk space than Toyota’s hydrogen Mirai. Here, one discovers a minimalist yet rather spacious world of well-balanced, driver-centered features inspired by the executive office work place. A large touchscreen monitor, informative eye-forward gauge cluster, graph bar, and heads-up display intuitively inform the driver. Pleasing leather, hard and soft plastic molded surfaces, a hint of wood, and brushed metals surround driver and passengers. This may in fact be one of the finest-finished interiors in Honda’s stable.
On the business side, the initial Clarity offering is presently exclusive to Southern California at 12 select Honda dealerships where nearby hydrogen fueling stations are readily available. Among the first lessees are Jon Spallino, private securities investor and the world's first individual fuel cell vehicle customer. Jon began with the 2005 Honda FCX fuel cell vehicle and the new Clarity Fuel Cell is his third hydrogen-powered Honda. Also taking initial delivery were Jack Cusick, assistant principal of Newport Harbor High School; Jackie Keller, founder of NutriFit healthy meal services; Jim Salomon, president at Questar Construction; Karen Thorp, deputy district attorney for the County of Los Angeles; and Terry Tamminen, CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
Clarity may be leased in select markets for $369 per month with $2868 due at signing. Honda provides some enticing incentives including a generous mileage allowance of 20,000 miles per year and a fuel allowance of up to $15,000 in hydrogen fuel. Also provided are an Avis luxury rental car allowance for vacations and other extended trips plus 24/7 roadside assistance.