JUST AS with buses, you wait an age for a fuel-cell-powered car to come along, and then two arrive at once. Honda is following in the water trail of the recently announced Toyota Mirai, the first fuel-cell electric vehicle to go on sale, confirming that the latest incarnation of its own FCEV (fuel-cell electric vehicle) will reach showrooms in Japan in March 2016, before going on sale in North America and Europe.
An evolution of the FCX Clarity, which was first revealed in 2007, the Honda FCV concept was officially unveiled in Tokyo this week – ensuring that Toyota doesn’t hog all the hydrogen-related headlines.
Honda says the entire drivetrain, including the fuel cell stack that produces the electric power, is packaged beneath the bonnet, so the cabin offers seating for five (the Mirai is only a four-seater). Honda says this will make the development of other body styles on the same platform easier.
The fuel cell stack in the new Honda is a third smaller than in the FCX Clarity prototypes but performs 60% better.
Honda claims the power output of the electric motor is more than 100kW (equivalent to 134bhp). More significantly, the cruising range is said to be more than 430 miles, which compares favourably with the Toyota Mirai’s 300 miles. Refuelling takes 3-4 minutes.
The company has also demonstrated how the car could act as a generator, delivering 9kW of electric power. This could prove useful during power cuts or even emergency situations, something that has preoccupied Japanese industry since the 2011 earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
Toyota has overshadowed Honda in the hybrid car market, with models such as the Prius proving more successful than Honda’s Insight and Civic hybrids. Will Honda regain lost ground with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?