Honda's hydrogen fuel cell sedan can power your entire house
Honda unveiled its first production hydrogen-powered fuel cell sedan, the Clarity Fuel Cell, at the Tokyo Motor Show on Tuesday. Though Honda has dabbled in hydrogen power since the late 1980s, the five-passenger Clarity Fuel Cell sedan is the first hydrogen-powered model that the Japanese carmaker has intended to offer up to the public.
A quick refresher on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles: The cars transform hydrogen — in a unit called the fuel cell stack — into electricity, which is fed to a lithium-ion battery pack and out to an electric motor that turns the drive wheels. Essentially, think of it as an electric vehicle that can be refilled in three minutes and emits only water vapor out of its tailpipes.
The Clarity Fuel Cell represents a leap forward for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). Honda has managed to shrink the size of the hydrogen fuel cell stack by 33%, down to the size of a V6 gasoline engine. This compact shape allows designers to fit it underneath the hood of the car — a first for FCVs. Until this point fuel cells have been so large that they needed to be packaged elsewhere in the vehicle, like in Toyota's Mirai, which has its fuel cell stack in the center of the vehicle, cutting into interior space.
With the fuel cell stack under the hood — like that of a gasoline-powered car — the cabin can be shaped in a standard five-passenger layout with enough room to comfortably seat five adults.
When full of hydrogen, the Clarity Fuel Cell can travel 700 km (434 miles) on a single charge, which is around 50 km further than the Toyota Mirai. For those of you figure junkies, Honda boasts the fuel cell stack has a power output of 100 kW while the electric motor that actually drives the wheels has a maximum output of 130 kW. I'd love to tell you how that translates into a 0 to 60 mph time, but Honda hasn't revealed those figures.
Acceleration aside, Honda has revealed another cool feature of the Clarity Fuel Cell. When plugged into another Honda gizmo called the Power Exporter 9000, the Clarity Fuel Cell can produce enough electricity to power an average home for approximately seven days — perfect during a natural disaster or run of the mill power outage. Granted, Honda likely means an average Japanese house, not an American home. So that number will likely come down a bit when the Power Exporter 9000 comes Stateside.
Honda will begin leasing the Clarity Fuel Cell to Japanese municipalities and businesses in March 2016. It will later open sales to the general public, with entry into the U.S. and European markets following that. Right now, the Clarity Fuel Cell is priced at 7.66 million yen or $62,807. Whether it'll hold that price when offered in America is unclear.