Honda Quietly Delays Launch of Fuel Cell Sedan, Unveils Another Concept Instead for LA Auto Show

Just like fellow Japanese automaker Toyota, Honda unveiled its latest fuel cell sedan in Japan this morning, just days ahead of the car’s North American debut at the 2014 LA Auto Show.

Honda's FCV Concept isn't the production-ready fuel cell sedan we were all waiting for.

Honda’s FCV Concept isn’t the production-ready fuel cell sedan we were all waiting for.

 

But unlike Toyota, which will be giving its production-ready 2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Sedan its official U.S. debut this week, Honda’s latest fuel cell sedan isn’t a 2016 model-year production-ready vehicle as everyone in the industry expected: it’s a more conventional-looking evolution of the FCEV Concept it debuted at the 2013 LA Auto Show which Honda is calling the FCV Concept.

Just like the 2013 Honda FCEV Concept, the 2014 Honda FCV concept makes use of an all-new fuel cell stack, which is 33 percent smaller than previous generations of fuel cell stack used by Honda. As with last year’s concept, the specifications are the same: an output density of up to 3.1 kW per litre, and a total power output of more than 100kW.  Unlike the Honda FCX Clarity we drove a few weeks back, this new concept car has its fuel cell stack hidden under the hood, which frees up space inside the car and makes it a practical four-door, five-seat sedan.

Honda also says that moving the fuel cell stack under the hood should also make it easier for the underlying platform on which the 2014 FCV Concept is built to be adapted for other vehicle types, although it doesn’t give any examples of what those vehicles would be.

As with last year’s concept, there’s the same 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen storage tank that Honda says should give more than 300 miles of range per fill. Because its fuel cell system operates at a much higher pressure than previous generation vehicles, Honda says refuelling time has been dramatically reduced to between three and five minutes from empty.

Inside, there's seating for five adults.

Inside, there’s seating for five adults.

Externally, the 2014 Honda FCV Concept has been given a reworking from front to back, with the most noticeable change being its rear. Gone is the futuristic spaceship look and fully-covered rear wheel spats of last year’s model and in their place is a more subtle rear, complete with a wheel spat covering just the upper sidewall of the rear wheels. There’s also a less-aggressive front wheel arch too, making the FCV Concept look less Sci-fi and more everyday than its predecessor.

But perhaps the most interesting part about the new Honda FCV Concept isn’t the car itself — nor is it the fact that Honda has quietly pushed back the launch of its fuel cell sedan from 2015 to 2016: it’s the Honda Power Exporter Concept unveiled alongside the FCV Concept.

About the same size as one of Honda’s small gasoline-powered generators, the Power Exporter Concept is a 9kW portable power station that can connect to the Honda FCV Concept to turn it into an emergency power station. Like the LEAF-to-Home emergency vehicle-to-grid system designed by Nissan for use with its LEAF electric car, this means the Honda FCV Concept could be used to provide power to communities in the aftermath of a disaster.

Also due to debut this week is the FCV Concept Power Exporter, which will turn the FCV Concept into an emergency power station.

Also due to debut this week is the FCV Concept Power Exporter, which will turn the FCV Concept into an emergency power station.

We’ll no doubt hear more about the Honda FCV Concept when the LA Auto Show starts later this week, but in the meantime, we’re curious to know what you think of this newest hydrogen fuel cell concept car, along with your explanations as to why Honda has pushed back its hydrogen fuel cell launch plans.

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • OK perhaps a dumb question u2026 the ‘plug’ on the FCV Concept Power Exporter looks like a CHAdeMO plug? Doubt this will be a two-way connection like the EV-to-Home CHAdeMO systems (to allow charging of FCEVs battery), but could be useful to turn an FCEV into a range-extender for other BEVs. nnThe Power Exprter would be essential for powering a Hydrogen Fueling Stations when the power fails. 😉

    • MEroller

      I would strongly assume the CHAdeMO plug is there for connecting the Power Exporter to the vehicle, in a one-way configuration, the direction being out of the car and into the Power Exporter. How else could it operate?

      • lee colleton

        If the cars had sizable Lithium batteries then they could be used for charging instead of power export. The car controls that, so they’ll only produce power from the fuel cell as currently designed.

    • Related u2026 found in the boot of Toyota Miria FCV: http://twitter.com/johnvoelcker/status/534460895909277696/photo/1

    • The cool thing with using CHAdeMO to Power Exporter, is it will work equally well with a LEAF, or any other CHAdeMO equipped vehicle. 🙂