by Jack Rosebro
|The Honda FCX Clarity.|
At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Honda today unveiled the FCX Clarity, a production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle based on the FCX Concept. (Earlier post.)
Honda will lease the vehicle to customers in selected areas of Southern California beginning in summer 2008. The lease will be three years long, with a monthly cost of $600 per month, including service, maintenance, and collision insurance. Customers will be able to drop off their vehicles at a Honda dealership for service, and Honda will then transport the vehicles to a dedicated service facility. Honda declined to disclose the amount of FCX Clarity vehicles that will be leased, and said that they would be announcing that figure next year.
|The V-Flow stack for the FCX Clarity. Click to enlarge.|
For the Clarity, Honda has replaced the ultra-capacitors used in the FCX Concept with a lithium-ion battery pack. The Clarity uses the same V-Flow fuel cell stack as the FCX Concept, and the stack can start at temperatures as low as -22° Farenheit.
The vertically-oriented stack achieves an output of 100 kW (versus 86 kW in the current Honda FC stack) with a 50% increase in output density by volume (67% by mass). Its compact size allows for a more spacious interior and more efficient packaging of other powertrain components.
Compared to the current-generation FCX, the FCX Clarity offers:
A 20% increase in fuel economy to the approximate equivalent of 68 mpgge (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent) combined fuel economy (about 2-3 times the fuel economy of a gasoline-powered car, and 1.5 times that of a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle, of comparable size and performance);
A 30% increase in vehicle range to 270 miles;
A 25% improvement in power-to-weight ratio, in part from an approximate 400-pound reduction in the fuel cell powertrain weight, for superior performance and efficiency despite a substantial increase in overall vehicle size;
A 45% reduction in the size of the fuel cell powertrain—nearly equivalent, in terms of volume, to a modern gas-electric hybrid powertrain;
An advanced new lithium-ion battery pack that is 40 percent lighter and 50 percent smaller than the current-generation FCX’s ultra-capacitor; and
A single 5,000-psi hydrogen storage tank with 10% additional hydrogen capacity than the previous model.
The fuel cell stack operates as the vehicle’s main power source. Additional energy captured through regenerative braking and deceleration is stored in the lithium-ion battery pack, and used to supplement power from the fuel cell, when needed.
Tetsuo Iwamura, American Honda president and CEO, stated that the Clarity “will be EPA-certified, with the miles-per-gallon equivalent displayed on the window sticker.”
Honda has launched a consumer website for the vehicle at www.fcx.honda.com.