Honda Clarity Leapfrogs Toyota Mirai in Hydrogen Fuel Cell Range Charts, Gets 366-Mile EPA-Approved Range

As Mitsubishi Motors will confirm, being the first to market isn’t always the best strategy when it comes to the automotive world. Despite launching its iMiev electric car in Japan in late 2009, the four-seat electric city car soon lost its appeal when rival automaker Nissan launched the larger, more practical (and similarly-priced) Nissan LEAF hatchback nearly a year later.

When it goes on sale, the Honda Clarity will be the longest-range FCV there is.

When it goes on sale, the Honda Clarity will be the longest-range FCV there is.

In a similar vein, Honda, which had the honor of being the first automaker to bring a hybrid car to the U.S. in the form of the two-seat, ultra-efficient first-generation Insight back in December 1999, found itself lagging behind in hybrid car sales just seven months later when its rival Toyota introduced the more practical, five-seat Prius sedan to the U.S. market. In short, being first to market with a new car or new technology doesn’t mean an automaker is going to dominate the marketplace.

And if we’re honest, that’s a lesson we think both Toyota and Hyundai are about to learn at the hands of Honda, whose 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan has just been given an official EPA rating of 366-miles per fill of its high-pressure twin hydrogen fuel tanks. This means that Honda’s new fuel cell vehicle, which already seats five people rather than the four-person occupancy of the Mirai, can also travel 51 miles further per fill than the Mirai.

Sticker price is expected to be around the $60,000 mark.

Sticker price is expected to be around the $60,000 mark.

It’s also more than the Hyundai Tucson, the first hydrogen fuel cell car to go on sale in the U.S. It manages just 246 miles per fill of its on-board hydrogen fuel tanks, although we should note for fairness’ sake that it is a low-volume vehicle based on the previous-generation internal combustion engined Hyundai Tucson, not a brand-new vehicle designed from the ground up to be a hydrogen fuel cell car.

Compared to its predecessor, the Honda Clarity FCX, Honda says the 2017 Honda Clarity features a hydrogen fuel cell stack that is 33 percent more compact than its predecessor. Unlike its predecessor, which stored its fuel cell stack in the centre of the vehicle underneath the center console unit, the smaller fuel cell stack can fit under the hood alongside the 100 kilowatt electric motor that provides motive power to the wheels. In addition to being smaller than Honda’s previous-generation fuel cell stack, Honda says the Clarity’s fuel cell stack is 60 percent more powerful too, making for a more enjoyable (and less labored) driving experience.

Honda is careful to note too that the Clarity’s 366-mile EPA-approved range makes it the longest-range electric vehicle on sale today, beating even the Tesla Model S P100D when it comes to long-range capability. Rather than a large lithium-ion battery pack as its energy storage medium, it just happens to use compressed hydrogen instead.

But while Honda can legitimately claim the crown as the longest-range zero tailpipe emission electrified vehicle on sale today, Tesla’s flagship electric sedan still makes the smarter choice when it comes to long-range road trips, even if it works out substantially more than the Honda Clarity.

Getting hold of one will be problematic.

Getting hold of one will be problematic.

That’s because when the Honda Clarity goes on sale shortly, it will only be available at just a dozen dealerships across California. Moreover, you won’t necessarily even get one if you head to one of those twelve dealerships and hand over the  expected $60,000 list price in cold, hard cash. Instead, Honda is expected to carefully vet prospective owners to ensure that their lifestyle is compatible with the Clarity. You’ll also need to live within easy reach of a compatible hydrogen filling station, otherwise refueling trips could zap some of your usable range. And unlike a battery electric car, there’s not topping up at home.

Honda has yet to reveal final pricing or specifications for the U.S. market version of the Clarity, although it has said it expects most customers to lease, rather than buy to help offset the high sticker price associated with its first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car.


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  • Martin Lacey

    “Getting hold of one will be problematic”… not as problematic as running one will be!

    • bruha21

      I would not have a problem. In the next few months, I will have two stations within three miles of me. I am willing to be one of the trailblazers to buy a FCEV. BEVs are great for commuter cars. But I truly believe that the potential of hydrogen for short range vehicles, long range vehicles, buses, tractor trailers, etc. It has the potential for get the U.S. and the world away from fossil fuels. Wouldn’t that be great?

      If battery technology improves, which I hope it does, it gives another option for vehicles. However, charging one’s vehicle at home does nothing to get us off fossil fuel. A third of the electricity produced by the U.S. still comes from coal. Another third comes from natural gas. BEVs won’t wean us from fossil fuel. H-FCEVs will force new technologies to generate hydrogen which will help us get us off coal and natural gas.

      • Martin Lacey

        I’m afraid you have proffered a skewed argument:

        1)All the Hydrogen for your FCEV will be extracted from natural gas (NG). Last time I checked NG was a fossil fuel.

        2)The USA grid is getting cleaner by the week with solar and wind power installations coming online every day.

        3)Let’s not even talk about the loss of energy every time it is transformed from one form to another.

        4)Final nail in the FCEV coffin is the FACT that electricity will always be cheaper than H2 extracted by electrolysis.

        • bruha21

          1) Incorrect. Many of the California stations are generated through clean energy. I don’t disagree that currently, much of the hydrogen is from natural gas. However, I believe that there is great potential for technologies to generate hydrogen. Honda has developed experimental solar electrolysis stations.

          2) In California especially since there are incentives and mandates to generate clean energy. But much of the power is going away from coal and more toward natural gas because it is cheaper for energy companies. The expansive use of BEVs will not push those companies to go green. Most BEV owners don’t care either. They primarily want a cheap energy source. I am one who wants to push for the country to go greener and the demand for Hydrogen can direct those companies to think more about hydrogen.

          3) In the article references in 1) above it describes technology for “normal pressure electrolysis stacks” which reduces the energy for compression.

          4) If I have a small solar electrolysis station in my home I can see it being cheaper. I nor you can know the future as to whether electricity will *always* be cheaper than H2.

          I know I won’t convince you one way or another. Unlike you (and most BEV enthusiasts), I’m not looking at just today’s technology nor today’s prices. I am looking at the future and I am encouraged by the technology breakthroughs that are being made in Japan and in Europe.

          • Martin Lacey

            If H2 is generated using electricity and then is used in a catalytic process to charge a smaller battery pack…. even electrolysis uses electricity you have two forms of power used to power an FCEV motor.

            Bev’s use one form of energy to charge a larger battery pack to power the motor. No matter how you choose to dress it up BEV’s will therefore always be cheaper to run.

            You propose a solar stack to do your electrolysis operation at home – surely solar direct to BEV would be wiser, greener, cleaner and safer. You postulate a technology which doesn’t exist yet in the real world. Honda may have proven the concept but have not commercialised the process, that my friend is the problem with H2 it cannot be economically commercialised!

          • Jeff Songster

            Another problem with the high pressure hydrogen systems is recovery time and simply the energy not used for propulsion but just compressing the gas… Apparently the stations have long recovery times between fill ups and so the 5 minute fill up we hear so much about is mythical, drivers that get to a station and queue behind another car might have to wait half an hour for the station to reach optimal pressure again from this million dollar pump installation. All this versus the idea of plugging into my home’s solar panel system and charging at dc quick chargers in my area.

  • vdiv

    So as an electric vehicle can we also put electricity in it to make it go, i.e. the fuel cell is reversible and can produce hydrogen while charging from the grid? No?! Then it is not electric, it is hydrogen-powered.

    • Chris O

      Agreed. calling a HFCV an EV is muddying the waters. Sure there it’s possible to trump up an EV definition that would make the Clarity an EV, if you want to call cars EVs just because it’s got an electric motor somewhere adding traction to the wheels. A regular Prius would also be an EV to some extend despite being 100% gasoline powered.

      Since this discussion is about energy it makes a lot more sense to classify cars according to the energy carriers they use as that’s what defines the impact they will have on the planet. So cars that use gas are gas cars, cars that use diesels are diesels, cars that use hydrogen are HFCVs and cars that use electricity are EVs.

      • bruha21

        Incorrect. What drives the wheels of a Clarity is an electric motor. On the Prius the wheels can be driven by the gas engine or the electric motor, or both. So it is a truly “hybrid”. The Clarity, like the Tesla, is an electric vehicle.

        • mattster

          Mmm. You can call it a FCEV if you like but it’s rather misleading to call it an EV. FCEV hints at the series hybrid nature of it, EV is misleading by the omission of the energy carrier the user puts into the vehicle. The point has already been made, but if its ok to call an FCEV an EV then by precisely the same argument you’ve used it’s also ok to call a diesel electric locomotive an EV. Or a Nissan Note e-Power. Do you really want to make that argument? Also as has been stated most H2 still created from fossil fuels, but it’s within the grasp of many to fuel a (B)EV from domestic solar. Not so H2. As for electrolysis, the round trip efficiency is horrible (due to fundamental physics – so appeals to some undefined future tech don’t work), so unless you think the problem we face is “more green energy than we know what to do with, just need a convenient way of storing it on a tank, and I don’t care how wastefully” H2 just isn’t a major part of the solution. This has been plain for years, but I recently came across some fun clips of Musk on the topic. He frustrated that anyone is still even asking the question – well worth a watch!

    • bruha21

      Disagree. There are Electric Vehicles and Internal Combustion Vehicles. The distinction is what drives the wheels. Most people understand that there are “BEVs” and “FCEVs”. Both have electric motors that drive the wheels. Just as diesel engines are still Internal Combustion vehicles. It does not matter whether the fuel is gas or diesel fuel.

      • vdiv

        Most people care about what you put in the vehicle to get it to go, how much does it cost, and where they can find it. That’s the defining characteristic, not how it converts and moves the energy inside. FCVs are serial hybrids just like gasoline and diesel hybrids. Diesel locomotives and diesel submarines also use electric motors, but no one calls them electric.

        • bruha21

          Your original point was regarding an “Electric Vehicle”. My point was that the Clarity is an Electric Vehicle. If you can’t accept nor understand the terms BEV and FCEV, then there’s no point in arguing.

          • vdiv

            Yeah, looking at the comments I’m just wondering who is arguing. Repeat after me, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle. See? Not that hard.