Honda Hands Over Keys for First Clarity Fuel Cell

Further improvement in energy density, © Honda

Life’s hard on Honda: The Japanese carmaker has always been overshadowed by its biggest rival Toyota. Whereas Toyota is expanding its lead thanks to VW‘s diesel emissions scandal, Honda’s efforts to shine in the spotlight, at least by promoting forward-looking technologies, have been met with only a lukewarm press reception. The latest example of that was the corporation’s unveiling of its second generation of Clarity fuel cell cars in the fall of 2015. The presentation attracted much less attention than when Toyota showcased the first generation of its Mirai.

In 2002, Honda had already been competing with Toyota about which company would be the first to deliver their fuel cell cars to external testing partners (see). It seems as if bad luck may just follow Japan’s number two anywhere. In March 2011, it was an earthquake and a tsunami which impacted the company’s production of the FCX Clarity. Toyota and Nissan had also been affected, but Honda wasn’t able to produce as many fuel cell cars as planned. Then, there was the recall of Takata airbags, which mainly impacted Clarity Fuel Cell cars, so that a same-date market launch with the Toyota Mirai – as in 2002 (see) – was no longer achievable.

Takahiro Hachigo, president of Honda Motor, nevertheless announced that his long-term strategy was to increase the share of electric cars in total production to two-thirds by 2030. This development should also benefit General Motors, which cooperates with Honda in the fields of fuel cells and autonomous driving.

Range above 700 kilometers

The first time Honda presented the Clarity Fuel Cell was a year after the Mirai, at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2015. In Europe, the second generation of the Clarity was first sighted at the Geneva International Motor Show in early March 2016, shortly before the company started selling it on the Japanese market. The first customer receiving a Clarity Fuel Cell was the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), where Hachigo handed over the car keys personally in mid-March.

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Instead, the fuel cell cars will first be delivered to Denmark and the UK.

To complement its product portfolio, the Japanese carmaker will offer the Power Exporter 9000 as an APU to enable drivers to use the fuel cell power (9 kW; see p. 45) independent from the car. This “energy source on wheels,” which has also made its way onto the market, is said to be able to supply an average household with enough electricity for a week.

Thomas Brachmann from Honda Germany explained to Spiegel: “The FCX Clarity hit the road in 2008. What we have unveiled here in Tokyo is therefore already a generation ahead of Toyota’s model.”

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