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Honda's Zero Emissions Clarity FCEV strikes a pose in Los Angeles

We've watched the evolution of Honda Fuel Cell technology for several decades. Finally, 2016 Clarity FCEV production model strikes a pose at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

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Many Honda fans will most likely “click and flip” on this article. After all, a Civic or CR-V owner may have little to no interest in the future of Hydrogen Fuel Cell developement, or the market delivery of what is arguably the most market-viable FCV in existence today; although many may appreciate the zero emissions implications.

Not to take anything away from Toyota Mirai FCV, it’s first to come to market in California. And, although not presenting the interior volume of 2016 Clarity, Mirai does compel its onlooker to contemplate the future of Fuel Cell technology; its future forward good looking, and on the road first, but this article is directed to Honda Clarity.

We sit in next gen Honda Clarity at the Los Angeles Auto Show

We won’t claim to know what goes on behind closed doors at Honda Motors in Tokyo. Looking to the rather Japanese lounge-like interior of Clarity, one can’t help but admire the sparse yet purpose driven interior expanse of the world’s only 5 passenger FCV.

Featuring a near burgundy cherry metallic red exterior color on white parchment leather and wood-grained graphite detailing, Clarity presents the self-driving fuel cell generated electric vehicle of the not too distant future, Honda’s ready, unfortunately, the world isn’t.

At first look, Clarity FCV looks rather Accord-like

And that’s the beauty of Clarity, a statement of restrained refinement meets advanced science head on! Honda has designed and manufactured a FCV of midsize proportion, something that couldn’t be done in the not-too distant past, due to the dimension of the Fuel Cell Generator.

2017 Clarity carries a generator no larger than Honda’s V6

A reduction in mass, an increase in generating efficiency, and a much improved battery module places Honda Clarity on top of the FCV food chain, with a stated between refueling drive range of 300 miles or so.

According to Honda, refueling, or transfer of liquefied hydrogen to Clarity should take no more than 3 minutes, quicker than it takes one to fill a car’s fuel tank with gasoline.

But what about the availability of fueling network, cost of fuel, and estimated MSRP for Clarity? And, when and where will Honda’s only FCV be available for lease or purchase by the public?

Honda’s not saying…

In speaking with Honda’s environmental lead Ms. Angie Nucci, Torque News learned a thing or two as to the timely release and market viability of Clarity.
Clarity_TrunkAs we reported in 2014, Clarity FCV will be released to a handful of test-buyers in California sometime in mid to late 2016. The initial release of Clarity is in Tokyo, and although Honda has vowed to populate the roads with several Clarity'FCVs in the Golden State, while slowing expanding opportunity to select markets in the U.S., the rate of expansion, and the viability of mainstream- FCV deployment rests with the expansion of fueling infrastructure.

To date there are no more than a handful of nitrogen fuel stations on the West Coast of the United States, although Angie tells us the network is expanding. As of this writing Honda has not shared its estimated MSRP for Clarity, or in-fact if it will be available as a for “lease only” vehicle, as with past generations, or available for retail sales.

The news here is that Clarity is coming, and very cool looking. Will consumers line up to buy Clarity? That depends on an unknown factor or two, one being a reasonable MSRP.

With environmentalists panning FCV technology due to its current dependency on carbon based oil, and, with conventional internal combustion compact cars exceeding 40 mpg, the future is not clear for Clarity. We’ll leave it at that.

Parks McCants is an automotive news reporter focusing on Honda news coverage. Follow Parks on Twitter at @parksmccants.

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