With its hydrogen-powered Clarity, Honda promises to deliver an alternative fuel source that it hopes will prove as viable as electricity.
Honda figured out how to package the vehicle as a standard five-seat midsize sedan with all the room and versatility buyers in the segment expect. Plus, it can carry enough hydrogen to propel it for over 430 miles and needs only three minutes to fill at a refueling station.
Previous efforts at creating hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles were limited by large tanks that infringed on passenger space, took too long to refuel, and didn’t provide nearly as much range. The Clarity, despite its odd proportions in the rear, is a design marvel that could bring hydrogen power into the mainstream.
Except that Honda will also create electric and plug-in versions of the Clarity. Why?
Here’s what Car and Driver said of the upcoming car,
Other than the assertion that the Clarity Electric will be a battery-powered five-seat hatchback, the only details Honda has shared so far are that it will come standard with the Honda Sensing suite of active-safety technologies and offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities as options. Info on the battery pack, driving range, and price are anybody’s guess.
That still doesn’t explain why Honda would take a car that was designed to accommodate fuel cells and electrify it. The only reasons that make sense are that Honda wants to spread the costs of development to a wider audience while developing Clarity into an eco-friendly brand, much like the Prius family of cars. As an EV, or even a plug-in hybrid, the dimensions of the Clarity stop making sense, but maybe the extra space for hydrogen tanks will be filled with batteries.
The hydrogen Clarity will be a California-only affair and come priced at $60,000 but carry a lease price of about $500 per month. Electric and plug-in versions will be less expensive and become available throughout the U.S. by the end of 2017.
Which version of the Honda Clarity would you drive home: hydrogen, electric, or hybrid?