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Honda Unveils Production Fuel Cell Vehicle: FCX Clarity

by Jack Rosebro

Fcxclarity
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.

Fcx_clarity_107
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.

Comments

Neil

I'm with Henrik in that I'd like to see a larger plug-in battery and smaller fuel cell. If it had a 30 or 40 mile battery range I wouldn't need to keep hydrogen in the tank unless I made a long trip and the fuel cell would last much longer. As a range extender the fuel cell would only operate under optimum and steady conditions that would allow the PEM to last MUCH longer.

Henrik

Neil you are right on with the benefit of extended durability of the PEM when used in a PHEV configuration. Current automotive PEM cells last about 2300 hours at peak performance that is about 161000 miles driving 70 mph. This is barely enough for 20 years of ordinary use and it is certainly not enough for fleet vehicles like taxis. However, in a PHEV the issue is solved because it should be able to drive 5 times longer. This benefit extends to the durability of the hydrogen tank. I read somewhere that current 5000 or 10000 psi tanks can only be filled and emptied a certain number of times before they have to be replaced and that it is a big issue in current fuel cell vehicles that needs to be solved somehow. The hydrogen tank basically breaks down each time it is filled or emptied because of the extreme pressure. This issue is of cause far less in a PHEV configuration and it may solve it entirely.

SkepticNr1

Can we retain some sanity please.

Once you have generated (probably from fossil fuel at sub 50% efficiency) the electricity you will transmit it at great loss to the consumer for him to convert it at greater loss to hydrogen. Then you will compress this to 5000 psi losing over 30% of the energy you just made so as to store it in a vehicle.

Some way to waste energy....

Can we spend our time reducing consumption - BMW efficient dynamics, most types of hybrid drive, small diesel ICE like VW Bluemotion, diesotto engines etc... rather than running down blind alleys.

Neil aka Jack

I'm a pencil-dicked troll.

Schmeltz

SkeptikNR1:
Seems to me the propulsion systems you mentioned are more dead ends then Hydrogen will be a blind alley. We got to realize that some day the oil is going to run out. It is finite. Not only that, burning oil is destroying the environment. I don't know about you, but I kinda like having the ice caps where they are. Lastly, you can't drink the exhaust of those cars...nice little bonus there I think. What's wrong with trying to promote a technology that moves a car, and does nothing (in and of itself) to the environment. Make the Hydrogen with Nuclear, wind, ocean waves, anti-matter, or whatever else doesn't kill the Polar bears, and your good to go.

BMW_4_ever

All these new developments are exciting.

Ultimately, hydrogen is the real solution.

eric


I honestly don't see what people are so excited about. Note that they don't mention what the cost of the vehicle would be if you were to try and buy it. And they don't say where you are supposed to get the hydrogen from, nor how efficient the process for getting it into the tank of this thing would be..

I honestly don't see what people are so excited about. Note that they don't mention what the cost of the vehicle would be if you were to try and buy it. And they don't say where you are supposed to get the hydrogen from, nor how efficient the process for getting it into the tank of this thing would be..

Might have something to do with it being a TEST VEHICLE.

NBK-Boston

Your supposed to get the hydrogen from Honda's home energy appliance -- a handy little doodad you stick in your garage, which consumes natural gas and produces heat, hot water, electricity and/or hydrogen gas for your hydrogen car. It's not all that bad (though it ain't H2 from wind turbines), and the cost of the fuel cell stack is still so high that FCVs seem a long way from the mainstream.

NBK-Boston

You're supposed to get the hydrogen from Honda's home energy appliance -- a handy little doodad you stick in your garage, which consumes natural gas and produces heat, hot water, electricity and/or hydrogen gas for your hydrogen car. It's not all that bad (though it ain't H2 from wind turbines), and the cost of the fuel cell stack is still so high that FCVs seem a long way from the mainstream.

Ross

Skip the extra steps -

get rid of the need for building a new infrastructure (when the US's current infrastructure is falling apart and most of the world doesn't even have a modern infrastructure)

get rid of the need for inefficiently producing hydrogen from either fossil fuels or water

get rid of the need for excessive expense

get rid of the wait

get rid of the need for wasted energy

And what do you have? An EV running on a Li-ion battery that was charged from the grid. It's simpler, it's easier, it will be here sooner, it's just an all-around better bet. And with any hydrogen that is produced from industrial processes (say, plasma conversion of garbage) can be used in electromagnetic plane engines.

And while I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony.

Seriously, though, hydrogen is a complete and utterly shameless greenwashing campaign for the reasons that have been shouted across this website repeatedly.

Stan Peterson

All hail a new generation of EV-Is. Lets call them EV-IIs

Sorr

Shut your pie hole, Ross.

Emphyrio

Joseph Romm has analysed comprehensively and demonstrated the complete unviability of FCVs and any sort of hydrogen economy. It is a total white elephant.

Now what would work is resonant electrolysis of (distilled) water, using it as the dielectric in a capacitor, driven by in effect a Tesla Coil as developed by Stanley Meyer and others. Simply pumping up the energy level of the H-O bond until it dissociates. High voltage, very low current - potential alone will do it of course. Same principle as the photoelectric effect.

Max Reid

What happened to their Natgas Civic GX model, they added lots of features and bumped up the price to 24K and it hardly sells 1000 units / year.

Natgas is growing much faster and here is another news
http://ngvgroup.com/index.php?nav=noticias&idioma=IDIOMA&id=597&PHPSESSID=11696cdec3befd2536ab2e7a7f4f4935

I dont know when the Hydrogen will take off, especially with very few stations worldwide.

John Baldwin

Max,

The Honda CNG Civic sells 1000 per year because Honda only make 1000.

It fills with CNG at home, lowest emission vehicle in the world.

If Honda made more they would sell more., but they don't want to. Who knows why not? Maybe because if you sell lots of Civic CNG you canot move from that to fuel cell? Lots of very good CNG cars are now on the way by German OEMs, on biomethane this is zero CO2.....

sjc

I like the idea of fueling my car in my garage with CNG. Dual fueled to also run on E85 and making it a hybrid would be nice. We have the methods to save fuel and clean the air, we just need to do it.

Dave

Wait for Detroit/Japan/Europe or the Gov to fix our oil misuse and you will die waiting, period.

The US Gov could of should-of done something in the first energy crisis during the 1970's. Folks, that is going on 40 years ago, 40 years from now you will be dead.

Fuel cell ignoramuses, take note. The first commercial fuel cell was developed in 1959 and has been "10 years away" ever since. You will be dead before all the problems of an h2 economy are solved. One of the big unsolvable ones is the inconvenient fact that h2 is NOT AN ENERGY SOURCE, it does not exist in nature in usable quantities. Rather, it has to be converted from other energy sources, oil, gas, crops etc.

I have done something about, why haven't any of you? Am I smarter than all of you or all of you simply lazy and prefer ranting on green blogs. Get off you rear or die waiting for someone else to solve your problem.

My solution is made of off-the-shelf technology that has been available for years, pull your heads out and take a look. It was not cheap, I spent 35,658 total to build it, but that was one-off pricing that I am sure the not-for-profit GM/Ford could get for 1/2 as much as I paid.

As a result I am driving the best car I have ever had, and I have had a few. For my efforts I have the pleasure of driving an AWD true hybrid-electric (not a gimmick Prius).

I have a virtually new Volvo V70 AWD that I took the ICE and transmission out of and sold on ebay (some sucker bought the assembly for 3500!).

I then installed lead acid batteries (from Hawker) that should last 500-600 cycles with my DOD/recharge pattern and they are cheap to replace and 100% recyclable.

I installed two AC wheel motors (one at each front wheel) that have a peak of 40 hp each and one, 120 peak hp AC motor that drives the rears.

I am using a Zilla controller with regen braking that can provide 200 KW peak. I am using a 1.2 liter 90 hp Audi A2 diesel coupled to the same drive shaft as the 120 electric motor with a centrifugal clutch/CVT made by Comet Clutch, to drive the rears when/as needed.

In my garage I have a charger that with the flip of a switch will take energy from the batteries and power my house during power outages. It's built in timer begins charging when night rates are in effect, using cheap and surplus (the power companies can't turn down their plants and night) electricity.

Results:
A powerful, very cheap to run, nearly silent and luxurious automobile that has me laughing at all of you everytime I pass the pumps. I have a UPS for my house and I don't create need for more power plants.

Range driven normally is 24 miles (my commute is a long 16 miles RT)>
Range driven like an mad man = 7-10 miles.
Driven supper efficiently I once made 33.4 miles.
Running on diesel alone I can muster just 38 mpg on the highway, but it is kind of fun driving a car that sounds like a snowmobile:)

Top speed on electrics is over 90 mph, on diesel I can get to just over 75 mph.

Accelerations on electrics is quick for a heavy car that is virtually free to run, quite fast on both eletric and diesel, though I have never done a proper 0-60 test.

I've been driving this car with pleasure for 22 months and yes, on the same battery pack.

Anyone who wants pictures of the build process or more info on the OFF THE SHELF technology available YEARS AGO, drop me a note on sombreones@yahoo.co.uk. Fuel cell freaks, don't bother the technology is too much for you and will give you a headache.

liveoilfree

Complete and utter HOGWASH.

The cost of Hydrogen is dependent on the cost of electric to make it; it will never be less.

Honda, for propaganda purposes, is leasing this $3 million monstrosity for $600/month, whereas the much cheaper all-electric Mini-E is being leased for $800/month!

The thing you have to realize is that all-electric vehicles are ALREADY on the road, the Toyota RAV4-EV, using superior NiMH batteries lasting far more than 100,000 miles. You can't get that kind of miles from Lithium (at least, no one has so far gotten more than 50K). And Lithium is much more expensive than NiMH.

There will NEVER be more leased fuel cell cars on the road than battery EVS, and ALL those EVs are owned. NO fuel cell car is offered for sale, because they break down and the stack doesn't last more than 3 years in any case (degradation from C in the air).

Now as for Hydrogen, why not use CNG?? It's cheaper, there are already fueling stations, there's a glut of CNG, and ANY gas or diesel car or truck can be converted to CNG. CNG operates, also, at 3600 psi, so it's more energy dense (at STP) than Hydrogen; it doesn't need space-age tanks, as Hydrogen requires.

The Lithium battery in the FCX probably alone costs more than the ENTIRE Toyota RAV4-EV cost to produce.

liveoilfree

Henrik,
If Honda ever sold the FCX, I'd buy 10 and dismantle them for the parts, which could be sold for multiples of $103K.

The FCX is a scam, just Honda's delightful way of sabotaging the EV program (Honda crushed its HondaEV, an all-electric car inferior to the Toyota RAV4-EV, but using the same batteries).

BTW, a fool sell car is not "an ev", it's a hybrid: every fuel cell car requires a battery, because the fuel cell doesn't store energy from regen braking; also, the fuel cell stack doesn't deliver power for a few seconds after requesting it, so the battery has to do the initial power (unless, like a steam car, you want to wait to start moving??).

No, a fuel cell car is a joke, a mostrosity, a scam and a scheme devised to try to kill real EVs, which only run on electric that's stored in a battery by plugging in.

Examine the concept of "embrittlement" and think about Honda, the big liar, making false claims and conning the stupid and the gullible (like the "green car of the year", LOL, they also scammed for the GM "hybrid" SUV!).

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