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LA auto show: Honda clarity on hydrogen

Up for rent: Honda will lease the FCX for about $US600 per month.

Honda's hydrogen future is here, via a fuel cell vehicle due for US lease in 2008

21 Nov 2007

HONDA unveiled an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle at the Los Angeles auto show last week, announcing at the same time that it will begin leasing the zero-emissions car – known as the FCX Clarity – in the United States from mid-2008.

Derived from the 2005 FCX concept, the Clarity is a four-seat sedan using what Honda claims is an “entirely new” fuel cell platform known as V Flow.

The platform packages a more compact, lightweight and powerful “vertically oriented” fuel cell stack – some 65 per cent smaller than the previous FC stack – in the sedan’s centre tunnel, enabling the use of a sleeker, lower-slung sedan bodystyle.

Operating as the vehicle’s main power source, the V Flow stack works in combination with a new 50 per cent smaller and 40 per cent lighter lithium-ion battery pack, and a bigger-capacity 171-litre 5000psi compressed hydrogen storage tank (up 10 per cent), to power the AC synchronous electric motor.

Maximum output is 100kW (up from 86kW), while torque is rated at 256Nm. There are a number of other packaging and performance advantages that come with the new platform.

15 center imageHonda claims to have achieved a 20 per cent increase in fuel economy (now 3.5L/100km), a 30 per cent increase in vehicle range (to about 430km) and a 45 per cent reduction in the size of the fuel cell powertrain, which is now said to be equivalent (in terms of volume) to a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.

The name Clarity is meant to express the notion that Honda is creating an FCV that will offer a “clear solution to the challenges of the future, helping society achieve sustainable mobility”.

The sedan measures 4835mm in overall length, 1845mm in width and 1470mm in height. It tips the scales at 1625kg and has a maximum speed of 160km/h. Few other specifications have been provided at this stage.

In keeping with the Clarity’s eco orientation, Honda has used a plant-based bio-fabric for the seat upholstery and door linings. Other interior features include an improved hydrogen fuel-consumption display and climate-control seating.

Honda America will lease the vehicle to a “limited number” of retail customers in Southern California for three years at $US600 per month, including maintenance and accident insurance. Servicing will be handled via Honda dealers, who will transport the FCV to the company’s dedicated fuel-cell servicing and maintenance facility.

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