2009 Honda FCX Clarity Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2008
FAST FACTS
  • Hydrogen-fuel-cell powered sedan with electric drive
  • Styled to take advantage of fuel cell powertrain packaging
  • 270-mile range
  • Starts in temperatures as low as 22 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Fuel economy equivalent to 68 mpg
  • Available for lease to retail customers in Southern California starting summer 2008

Introduction

Honda is not new to the fuel cell game. They've been developing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles since the beginning of the decade, and their original FCX-a short, stubby 2-door based on the EV Plus electric car-went into fleet service in 2002. In late 2006 Honda introduced anew FCX concept on which the first retail version would be based. At the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show, Honda introduced the production version, called the FCX Clarity, and announced that it would be available for lease to customers in select areas of Southern California starting in the summer of 2008.

Model Lineup

The 2009 Honda FCX Clarity is a 4-door sedan available as a single model with comfort and convenience features such as a navigation system(programmed with hydrogen fueling station locations), reverse camera,premium audio, heated and cooled seats and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The seats are upholstered in Honda Bio-Fabric, a plant-based material that produces less CO2 emissions than standard fabric while offering comparable resistance to wear and sunlight damage. The FCX will be available on a 36-month lease at $600per month, which includes collision insurance and all maintenance.

Hardware

The 2009 Honda FCX Clarity is powered by a fuel cell stack that uses hydrogen to produce electricity, which in turn powers an electric traction motor that drives the front wheels. A regenerative braking system, similar to the system found in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles, allows the motor to generate electricity as the car slows down. This power is stored in a battery and is used to supplement the fuel cell as needed. Because the FCX Clarity uses an electric motor to power the wheels, there is no need for a conventional transmission.Total power output is 100 kilowatts, equivalent to about 134 hp.

The FCX Clarity's styling takes advantage of the packaging possibilities of a fuel-cell vehicle. The electric traction motor is located between the front wheels, allowing a short, low hood. The "VFlow" fuel cell stack is mounted between the front seats, inside a center tunnel similar in size to that found in conventional cars. The battery is just ahead of the rear axle, while the single hydrogen tank is located between the rear wheels, providing space for a traditional trunk.

Safety

The 2009 Honda FCX Clarity is equipped with a full range of safety features, including six air bags and anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and Collision Mitigation Braking System, as seen in the AcuraRL. Honda stressed that the FCX Clarity will meet all federal passenger car safety standards in effect when it is released.

Technology

The 2009 Honda FCX Clarity uses Honda's V Flow fuel stack, the latest generation of their hydrogen fuel-cell power system. The V Flow stack-is one-fifth the size of the original FCX's fuel stack. Taking into account the size of the lithium-ion battery-which is 50-percent lighter and 40-percent smaller than the ultra-capacitor used in the earlier-generation FCX-Honda estimates that the complete V Flow powertrain is comparable in size to a hybrid powertrain. The FCXClarity is a zero-emission vehicle; the only exhaust product from the vehicle itself is water. The FCX Clarity has a range of 270 miles, andHonda calculates its fuel efficiency to be comparable to a car getting68 mpg.

While hydrogen availability is still limited, Honda is working on developing a home-based refueling system. The current version, calledHome Energy Station IV, produces hydrogen from natural gas. In addition to hydrogen for the FCX Clarity, the Home Energy Station also produces electricity and heat for the home.
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