Since 2002 Honda has been trying to obtain lift-off for its FCX fuel cell driven line of vehicles. Now Honda has developed the Clarity Fuel Cell that is the company’s latest attempt at making the power train work. The Clarity’s range is longer, it has fewer fuel cells, has room for five, and generated 170 horse power. It’s a major improvement in fuel cell performance for Honda, but is it enough to gain popular uptake of the niche vehicles?
At WIRED, Eric Adams says Honda is suffering from a classic chicken/egg problem that fuel cell vehicles run into at every attempt to popularize them. Without fueling stations, fuel cell vehicles are worthless, but without more vehicles on the roads, fueling stations will never be economical to build. But there may be some optimism for the market. Adams writes:
Buy a Clarity, and you get advanced cruise control, radar and camera-assisted obstacle avoidance, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a head-up display, and a sporty suspension. The sleek new zero-emission ride can be yours for $369 per month over three years (about half the $600 a month you paid for the old FCX Clarity), which comes with a $15,000 fuel allowance.
That’s all well and good, but to win the hearts, minds, and checkbooks, Honda and fellow fuel cell pushers must crack the infrastructure. Right now, the only place in America driving on hydrogen is feasible is in California, which has 25 fueling stations: 16 in Los Angeles, nine in the Bay Area.
The state has already put $100 million into this project, it plans to spend another $20 million to support the installation of more than 100 stations by 2020. Hydrogen suppliers are working with automakers to make the stations more accessible and efficient. “Station costs are down, their capacity in terms of how many cars they can fuel at once is up, and the technology is improving,” says Stephen Ellis, Honda’s manager of fuel cell marketing. “They can fuel at twice the pressure now, further extending range, and both the car and the dispenser now talk to each other to optimize each fill for consistency and speed.”
Read more here.