Honda FCX Clarity
Honda FCX Clarity. Click image to enlarge

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A drive in the world’s most advanced fuel cell car

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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Honda FCX Clarity

Vancouver, British Columbia – Unveiled in November, 2007 at the Los Angeles Auto show, the production version of the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell car – yes, the production version – is now being leased to a limited number of “early adopters” in southern California – including some movie stars such as Jamie Lee Curtis – on a three-year lease for US$600 a month. Honda plans to have about 200 FCX Claritys on the road in the U.S. and Japan by 2011.

The Honda FCX Clarity is a (U.S.) street legal, zero-emissions, fuel cell-powered mid-size sedan that meets all current North American safety standards and performs much like a standard four-cylinder gasoline-engined car, according to Honda. One was recently driven from southern California to Vancouver as part of the Hydrogen Road Tour 2009, a promotional rally sponsored by various government and corporate entities interested in the promotion of hydrogen as an automotive fuel – you can read Autos’s coverage here. I was one of a group of eager journalists to get a brief test drive in the FCX Clarity last week.

Honda FCX Clarity
Honda FCX Clarity. Click image to enlarge

Unlike most other fuel cell vehicles now being tested in small fleets, the FCX Clarity doesn’t make use of an existing vehicle bodystyle that is converted to a fuel cell vehicle. The FCX Clarity is a clean-sheet design engineered and designed around its fuel cell drive components. As a result, Honda was able to package the components in a way that permitted a roomy four-passenger interior, a spacious trunk, and an eye-catching aerodynamic exterior design.

Under that stylish exterior, the FCX Clarity’s fuel cell components include a high pressure (5000 psi) hydrogen tank behind the rear seat; a third-generation Honda fuel cell stack in the console between the driver and front passenger that generates a maximum 100 kilowatts of electricity; a 288-volt lithium-ion battery under the rear seat to store the electricity; a combined 100-kW electric drive motor/coaxial gearbox/power drive unit in the engine bay that propels the car with the equivalent of 134 horsepower and 189 ft-lbs of torque.

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