Fuel cell honda clarity

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell News and Reviews

– Santa Barbara, California

When we drive gas cars, there are so many assumptions baked into the experience that it can be difficult to strip them away and see what's really going on. The billions of dollars that have been spent on infrastructure to make sure that you can refuel your car at $2.50 a gallon, the wars and environmental suffering required to secure the oil, all of it remains hidden to most people, most days. A car like the hydrogen-powered 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell can, if you let it, force you to think about what's happening behind the scenes. After all, there’s nothing at an average gas station that you can use to help power the Clarity Fuel Cell. How many cars can you say that about?

If you were to borrow your friend’s Clarity without discussing the powertrain, you might make that mistake. There's something unremarkable about the Clarity. Tone down – by only like 10 percent – the slightly-from-the-future design, and this thing wouldn't attract any attention on any highway, anywhere. And, if you're not paying a lot of attention as you sit in the driver's seat, you won't notice much that's odd, either. This should not be taken as tough criticism, because when it comes to the Clarity – and fuel cell cars in general – there's so much more happening than meets the eye. The real story here is not really the vehicle itself.

Nonetheless, we’re here to review a car, so let's start with what you can see. For starters, the Clarity is a big sedan, as Honda will repeatedly remind you if you look at the marketing material. The front end is the Clarity’s most future-y angle. There's a nice chrome bar crossing the grille, extending from the headlight to headlight. There's an echo of this bracket-like line in a strip of LED down under the front lights. The large hood – and we'll get to why it's so big in a minute – is not out of proportion to the rest of the vehicle, which is big but not obscene. This is not an econobox electric car, but a full-fledged sedan with plenty of room for five adults. Again, that's all quite unremarkable, right? The rear end is a bit busy, but we can forgive that because the rest of the design is clean enough. All in all, the Clarity's design works well enough, even if it’s a bit controversial. We expect all the Clarity models to look pretty much the same, so props to Honda for finding a look that will work no matter what's under the hood.

Speaking of which, let's clear up the various powertrain options here. Honda is doing something with its Clarity family that no other automaker is even attempting. You can find multiple powertrain types in a number of models (the Ford Focus comes in electric and gas versions, and you can find a Hyundai Tucson that uses hydrogen in a fuel cell or burns fossil fuels in an engine, and the Hyundai Ioniq will be available as an EV, PHEV, or hybrid, to cite three examples), but only Honda is offering one model as a pure electric, a plug-in hybrid, or a hydrogen fuel cell car. The fuel cell is up first, and the others will arrive in the U.S. later this year.

When it comes to the Clarity – and fuel cell cars in general – there's so much more happening than meets the eye. The real story here is not really the vehicle itself.

Inside, the Clarity feels like it has oceans of space, both in the front and rear. There's access to a space under the gear selector that's easily big enough to hold an iPad or large purse. The top of the dashboard, the part that meets the bottom of the windshield, feels like it's a million miles away, and you'll probably be jet lagged when you get there. Filled with angular, somewhat robotic lines, the whole dashboard feels elegant. Except for a mysterious, finger-size circle vent in the top center that, truth be told, both my co-driver and I had to stick our fingers in just to see what was going on in there. It is a weird detail, an exception to the rule that the Clarity feels like an elegant Acura. Heck, the push-button shifter is basically stolen directly from an MDX.

The rest of the parts that you can touch in the 102-cubic-foot passenger cabin are mostly – around 80 percent – covered in eco-friendly materials like Ultrasuede made from recycled components and seats with plant-derived fabric. It all feels right. Environmentally conscious without being all that different than what you'd expect in any other nicely apportioned sedan. Or, well, unremarkable.

The trunk loses a few points because one of the cylindrical hydrogen tanks takes up a lot of room there, sitting as it does behind the rear seats. A smaller h3 tank lies beneath those seats, because Honda has worked hard to minimize any aspect of the car that would signal that the Clarity Fuel Cell is anything odd. A lot – a lot – of work went into shrinking the fuel cell stack, and it’s now small enough to fit under the hood. In the FCX Clarity, Honda’s previous fuel cell vehicle, the stack sat between the passenger and driver seats. Everything about the Clarity is approaching normalcy.

Still, when you try to figure out the car's efficiency, it's tough to know how to do the math unless you've spent some time thinking about how to convert traditional miles-per-gallon numbers to kilograms of hydrogen per mile. Thankfully, the EPA has done the math for you, and says that the Clarity gets MPGe numbers of 69/67/68 in city/highway/combined tests. If you compare it solely to electric cars, then the 366-mile range might be the number that you care most about.

The Clarity is Honda’s big bet on what’s next, but it’s a vehicle that looks, drives, and refuels a lot like today's cars. This could be the future.

But now let's get to the most impressive, unimpressive part of the Clarity. Driving it feels like any other electric vehicle out there, with solid, linear acceleration. Moving down the street is mercifully quiet, but not a thrilling experience, even in sport mode. If you want to compare the Clarity to a similar hydrogen car, then the Toyota Mirai in power mode feels like it has a bit more pep. The Toyota is a slightly lighter car (4,078 pounds vs 4,134-pounds in the Honda), so perhaps that's why the Mirai's 114-kilowatt solid polymer electrolyte fuel cell stack and 113-kW electric motor (151-horsepower) rewards you a bit more than the Clarity's 103-kW proton exchange membrane fuel cell stack and 130-kW (174-hp) motor do when you step on the accelerator.

Whatever the numbers, this current generation of hydrogen sedans shouldn't be judged solely by their performance. Moving down the road, the Clarity feels strong and confident. There's a lot of car to push around, which means that the (still unspecified) 0-60 time is nothing to trumpet. But the general vibe of the drive is unthreatening and unexciting. It drives like you'd expect a big sedan to drive, just quieter and smoother. This is all fine, since everything else about the car – the fact that you use hydrogen to fuel it up and have to find h3 stations – is so radically different from your average sedan that Honda has kept as many aspects as it could looking and acting just like they would in any other gas car. If you’re expecting LaneWatch and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, you’re in luck. Those features and a whole suite of safety tech are available, and contribute to making driving the Clarity feel like the Honda you drove to the dealership for your test drive.

If you decide to get yourself a Clarity Fuel Cell, you can ignore the $58,490 MSRP. That’s because Honda is only offering the hydrogen car as a lease vehicle at 12 select dealers in California. The Clarity leases for $369 a month for 36 months, alongside $2,868 due at signing. The way that you buy your fuel with the Clarity is different, too, since the lease includes up to $15,000 of hydrogen. That sounds wonderful – “free” fuel, yay! – but but since $15/kg in the real world is not unheard of and there are only around two dozen hydrogen stations open in California right now, actually living with Clarity is not going to be the easiest transition for someone who wants to drive tomorrow’s car today.

What Honda's really working on here is not a car. It's the future. The automaker is working with its competition on hydrogen powertrain technology. It's giving $13.8 million in financing to a hydrogen refueling company. This is the kind of thing you need to do if you want to reshape the petroleum-based landscape that currently dominates the automotive industry. Sure, when you choose hydrogen instead of battery-powered cars, there are a lot of the same players involved but that's what Honda predicts we will want in the future. The Clarity is Honda’s big bet on what’s next, but it’s a vehicle that looks, drives, and refuels a lot like today's cars. This could be the future. Think about that for a minute.


Photos: Honda

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2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Quick Drive Review

Hydrogen has long been promised as the answer to many of our automotive and environmental problems, but it’s also always been promised as being just a few years away. With the all-new Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle from Honda (and its chief rival, the Toyota Mirai), though, the mass-production hydrogen car may finally be here.

Japanese automakers and their domestic government believe in hydrogen as a cure-all to our environmental quandaries, and they’ve invested a lot of money in making it viable. Back in 2008, Honda put the first purpose-built hydrogen fuel cell car on the road, but in the hands of fewer than 30 people. The FCX Clarity was a big deal, though, because it wasn’t an existing car hacked up and stuffed with tanks and inverters and things. Allegedly, each car cost Honda $1 million USD when you added up all the money put into building two dozen or so cars.

Thing is, it drove like any other Honda sedan. It was built to production car standards and performed as well as any run-of-the-mill Civic. In fact, ignoring its onboard fuel cell, it was the best electrically driven car on the market by a country mile. (Remember, the Tesla Model S wouldn’t exist for several more years.) It had its compromises, though. Refueling was different and required special training and care. The fuel cell stack and hydrogen tanks took up a lot of space, leaving little room for cargo. And of course the number of hydrogen refueling stations in the country could be counted on one hand.

The Clarity Fuel Cell enters a different world, and though it looks similar, it’s a different car. Today’s world has an increasing number of hydrogen refueling stations, and not just in Southern California. Toyota has announced an initiative to help fund new station construction and is releasing its own mass-market fuel cell vehicle. It’s a nascent industry to be sure, but it’s looking far more viable than ever.

The car has changed, too. The most important work has gone on under the hood, where Honda has shrunk the fuel cell stack by a third and much of the power control hardware similarly to the point where it can all fit under the hood for the first time. The fuel cell itself features 30 percent fewer actual cells, but power density is up 50 percent. All told, the new, compact stack puts out 100-plus kilowatts at 330 volts. It now resides on top of the electric motor, where the power controller and voltage regulator used to live. The controller is smaller and incorporated in the motor housing, and the smaller regulator now sits on top of the fuel cell. Altogether, the entire setup is about the same size as a V-6 engine and transmission.

Getting the fuel cell under the hood undid some of the old FCX Clarity’s compromises. With the batteries (which store some of the fuel cell’s output to allow for pure EV driving and supplement the fuel cell under heavy load or hard acceleration) under the floor and the smaller of the hydrogen tanks under the rear seat, the Clarity Fuel Cell is a true five-seater now, with as much space in the rear seat as your average compact sedan. Although Honda could’ve used the additional space to make a big trunk, it instead increased the trunk size moderately and used the rest of the space to fit a larger hydrogen tank behind the rear seats. Doing so has increased the range from 240 miles to 300 miles and change (the 2016 Mirai is rated for 312 miles). Honda still claims to have the biggest trunk of any fuel cell vehicle on the market (a low bar), and you could probably get two large suitcases in there now as opposed to the one the FCX would hold. The cherry on top is that despite the extra range, you can still fill the tanks in about three minutes, or roughly the same amount of time it would take you to put gas in another car. Beat that, Tesla Superchargers.

It gasses up quick and goes a fairly long way on a tank, but how does it drive? Hydrogen cars are actually EVs with onboard electrical generators. Powering the Clarity Fuel Cell is a 130-kW/174-hp electric motor, a 30 percent improvement over the FCX (134 hp). Torque isn’t yet specified, but Honda claims a 17 percent improvement over the FCX’s 189 lb-ft, which would put it around 220 lb-ft. The Clarity Fuel Cell is also heavier than the FCX, though Honda won’t say how much. It’s still likely the Clarity Fuel Cell will be quicker than the FCX and its 9.3-second sprint to 60 mph.

Actually driving the car, which I unfortunately didn’t get to do for long, gives a good impression. Nail the throttle pedal, and the Clarity Fuel Cell jumps forward and accelerates surprisingly quickly, quick enough that I wouldn’t be at all concerned about merging on the freeway. I’d bet Honda’s taken at least a second off the 0-60-mph time. Like an EV, it’s very quiet business getting up to speed, but unlike in an EV, you do hear a faint noise from the fuel cell under hard acceleration. It sounds like someone slowly letting the air out of your tires.

Because my test drive was limited to a proving ground, I didn’t get much of an impression of ride quality or handling performance, but the strongest impression the car gives is that it’s surprisingly familiar. Other than the EV acceleration experience, it drives like a bigger, heavier Civic. Steering, braking, handling, and ride quality (what little I experienced) all felt like any other compact to midsize sedan. (Yes, it looks like a hatchback, but it’s not.) The average consumer will find this car surprisingly unintimidating despite its George Jetson powertrain.

It’s a nice place to take a ride into the future, too. The cabin is familiar Honda but with a simple and elegant futuristic bent. The floating infotainment screen and center console are reminiscent of certain luxury cars, as are the all-digital dashboard and head-up display. The materials are likewise luxury quality with leather seating and a suede-wrapped dashboard. The seats are comfortable, and there’s a good amount of space for all passengers (save maybe the middle seat in the rear, as expected). Outward visibility is very good, even to the rear. A tiny second window just above the middle seat headrest looks into the trunk, where there’s another tiny window in the trunklid. It seems silly, but it really does increase rearward visibility in the rearview mirror.

The Clarity Fuel Cell will also offer a unique emergency preparedness feature you won’t find anywhere else, though you might not be able to find it in the North America, either. A Honda-developed inverter called the Power Exporter 1000 plugs into the car’s charging port (you can pre-charge the battery at home to extend your pure EV range) and supplies AC power to several standard electrical outlets. In the event of a natural disaster, Honda says a Clarity Fuel Cell can power a small home or business for up to seven days. The inverter will be available in Japan after the car goes on sale. Honda’s made no commitment to exporting it yet, but I think it may consider it in a few years when enough cars have been sold. After all, the primary market (and only market at launch) will be California, which is prone to earthquakes.

The final question as the Clarity Fuel Cell approaches its on-sale date later next year will be pricing. Honda intends for it to be a mass-market car, and pricing will need to reflect that, but there’s also a great deal of technology and investment to pay for. I would venture to guess the Mirai’s pricing will be indicative; it sits at $57,500 USD before incentives, of which there are many. As such, we can expect hydrogen cars to follow roughly the same arc as their EV forbears, early adopters being well-heeled technophiles and environmentalists. If enough adopt, we can expect the price to drop as costs are amortized and scale is increased. It’ll be a slow road, no doubt, but for the first time in the history of the hydrogen car, it’s a road that actually goes somewhere.


2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

It’s not pretty, but the Honda Clarity is a vision of the future. Its space-capsule shape serves as proof of a collective subconscious among forward-thinking car designers stretching as far back as Hudson. Like the Hudson Hornet, there’s even twin-H power under the hood, but in the case of the Clarity the twin H refers to hydrogen molecules.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but bottling h3 on planet Earth requires energy. Hydrogen can be isolated many ways, and how the hydrogen is created and distributed determines the overall environmental impact of a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered vehicle. In the best-case scenario, the hydrogen comes from splitting a water molecule’s covalent bond using electricity from a renewable power source that is piped in or made at the filling station. In that situation, a fuel-cell car theoretically could be more efficient than a battery electric. But the reality isn’t usually that rosy. Often, hydrogen comes from the less-efficient process of separating hydrogen from natural gas, which then requires it to be trucked or piped to the station.

Fill ’Er Up

Filling the Clarity with hydrogen isn’t any more difficult that pumping gasoline into an Accord, although finding a hydrogen station may prove impossible outside of the Los Angeles basin or the San Francisco Bay Area. Like a conventional Japanese car, the Clarity’s fuel filler is under a flap on the left rear fender. Lock the nozzle over the car’s filler neck, and after a few seconds the station’s pump begins to whirr and grumble as it fills the two aluminum-lined, composite-reinforced tanks. A larger one (31 gallons) hides behind the rear seats and a smaller one (six gallons) is mounted under the rear-seat cushion. At 10,000 psi, the tanks hold 5.5 kilograms of hydrogen (roughly equal in energy to 5.5 gallons of gasoline). In our experience, that provided a range of about 300 miles. In EPA testing the Clarity did better, posting a 366-mile range. Similarly, the EPA quotes a 68 MPGe combined number. We didn’t match the EPA figure—we almost never do—recording 57 MPGe.

After five minutes or less at the station, you’re back on the road. Pumping hydrogen is really the only odd part of the Clarity experience. A 1.7-kWh battery pack mounted below the front seats acts as a buffer for the fuel cell and provides added juice when accelerating hard. It’s not a large battery, so you could consider the Clarity a hybrid in the sense that it draws from two distinct sources of power and has regenerative braking, even though it is always motivated by its electric motor. When driving the Clarity, there’s no discernable difference whether the motor is getting its electrons from the battery or the fuel cell. Depleting the small battery doesn’t take long, but it’s quickly and quietly recharged by the fuel cell.

If you’ve driven a modern electric car like the Nissan Leaf or Volkswagen e-Golf, the Clarity holds few surprises. A 174-hp motor turns the front wheels and has 221 lb-ft of torque, providing the nice snap of initial acceleration response we’ve come to associate with electrics. A zero-to-60-mph time of 8.1 seconds won’t have anyone thinking sports sedan, but it’s quicker than its lone rival, the Toyota Mirai, which is 0.8 second slower to 60.

Acura Environs

The Clarity is also a lot nicer inside than the Mirai. It seats five comfortably to the Mirai’s four. Most controls and the touchscreen will be familiar to Honda owners, but the décor is attractive and rich enough to pull Acura duty—which isn’t much of a stretch considering the Clarity costs $59,365 before government incentives. And the refinement goes beyond the interior. A solid structure and supple suspension give the Clarity a luxury-car feel that the Mirai can’t touch. Driving the Clarity after the Mirai is like getting into a Lexus ES350 after a Toyota Corolla.

Light and quick steering gives the illusion that the Clarity is smaller and more animated than its 4148 pounds suggest. While it’s never as lively or fun as the similarly sized but much lighter Accord, the Clarity is composed and secure when you start exploring its admittedly ho-hum 0.79 g of cornering grip. Stops from 70 mph, however, measured a long 194 feet. In less strenuous use the brake pedal is accurate and firm, but in hard panic stops, the pedal becomes spongy.

At the moment, Honda is offering a 36-month lease with 20,000 miles per year for $369 per month with $2499 down. That’s $20 more per month than Toyota’s current Mirai lease with the same down payment, but the Toyota lease only allows 12,000 miles per year. Both Honda and Toyota offer 21 days of luxury-car rental for when you need to venture somewhere that can’t be reached on hydrogen, the promise of a carpool-lane admission sticker, any available federal or state rebates, and most important, $15,000 worth of free fuel. During our drive, we saw a price range of $9.99 to $16.47 for a kilogram of hydrogen. Provided those prices remain the same, that’d be enough free fuel for roughly 60,000 miles—the mileage cap of the lease.

For this vision of the future to have a future, of course, would require a build out of the hydrogen infrastructure beyond its current twin nexuses of Los Angeles and San Francisco—a prospect that is far from certain. The Clarity, for its part, seems ready now.

Specifications >

VEHICLE TYPE: front-motor, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

MOTOR TYPE: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 174 hp, 221 lb-ft; 1.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

FUEL-CELL TYPE: solid-polymer-electrolyte proton-exchange membrane, 103 kW

TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

DIMENSIONS:Wheelbase: 108.3 inLength: 192.7 inWidth: 73.9 in Height: 58.2 inPassenger volume: 102 cu ftTrunk volume: 12 cu ftCurb weight: 4148 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS:Zero to 60 mph: 8.1 secZero to 100 mph: 26.7 secRolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.3 secTop gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 secTop gear, 50–70 mph: 5.7 secStanding ¼-mile: 16.4 sec @ 85 mphTop speed (governor limited): 105 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 194 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.79 g

FUEL ECONOMY:EPA combined/city/highway driving: 68/69/67 MPGeC/D observed: 57 MPGe


Тест – драйв Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

 Автомобильные производители всего мира друг перед другом пытаются отличится, делая все более совершенными автомобили (бензиновые, дизельные, гибридные). Но в автомобиьном производстве, пришло время прорыва как технологического, так и экологического. Бензиновые и дизельные технологии с их вредными выбросами выхлопных газов в атмосферу планеты скоро найдут свое место на полках истории, как устаревшие, древние технологии, приводящие в движение механизмы.


Что интересно, бензиновые автомобили оснащаются все более совершенными системами управления и безопасности, но о замене силовой установки ведущие автомобильные производители пока не задумываются. Эксперименты с новыми видами топлива ведутся более столетия, изобретатели находят самые неожиданные решения проблемы замены двигателя внутреннего сгорания на более экологичные и экономные силовые установки. Японские производители предложили вариант водородной силовой установки, которой оборудована Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.

Как работает автомобиль на водороде?

В основе водородного двигателя лежат так называемые топливные ячейки, вырабатывающие электричество наподобие электростанции, а восполнение запасов водорода занимает всего 10 минут, в отличие от зарядки электрических автомобилей, которая занимает минимум 4 часа при идеальных условиях. Япония, как исторически определенная родина передовых технологий, традиционно занимается разработкой водородных моделей автомобилей. Еще в 2006 году компания Honda выпустила свой первый автомобиль на водородных элементах, он стал первым серийным образцом такого рода машин в мире. Учитывая все выявленные недостатки и положительные моменты, производители выпустили Honda Clarity Fuel Cell - самый совершенный на сегодняшний день водородный автомобиль.

Принцип действия такого водородного двигателя знаком каждому из курса элементарной физики. Водород, вступая в реакцию с кислородом, выделяет воду и электричество. Из того же курса физики известно, что такая реакция может привести к неблагоприятным последствиям в виде взрыва смеси водорода и кислорода. Поэтому вся процедура их взаимодействия происходит в присутствии катализатора – платины, приблизительно как в катализаторе отработанных газов двигателя внутреннего сгорания. Топливные элементы, содержащие водород, называют ячейками. Они нужны для увеличения количества производимого электричества.

Где можно ездить на водородном авто?

С первого взгляда, все идеально, экологически чистый автомобиль, не требующий дорогостоящего бензина или электричества. Но как заправить такой автомобиль? Это и есть проблема. Компания Honda выпускает водородные станции, работающие по принципу расщепления воды на водород и кислород при помощи солнечной энергии. Точнее, электричества, полученного с помощью солнечной энергии. Конечно же, такой серьезный автопроизводитель уже подписал контракты на поставку водородного топлива в сжиженном виде с перерабатывающих заводов прямо на заправочные станции, которые пока к такому шагу не готовы. Даже есть перспективные планы выработки водорода из возобновляемых источников энергии. К примеру, биотопливо является возобновляемым источником энергии, а из него можно извлекать водород. В нашей стране водород производится из газа метана, есть планы правительства на его перспективное использование.

 На данный момент компания Honda развила лизинговую программу в Калифорнии, где власти, уделяют серьезное внимание экологическим проблемам и всячески способствуют производителям и покупателям автомобилей, сокращающих выбросы вредных веществ в атмосферу. Водородная модель автомобиля здесь получила свой исследовательский полигон в лице благодарных арендаторов машин. Вот что удалось получить из результатов такой аренды:

1.    Машина без проблем ездит по городу и окрестностям. Средний пробег на одном заряде составил около 400 км.2.    В районе г. Лос-Анджелес, Калифорния, находится семь заправочных водородных стаций. Они все рассчитаны ровно на половину расстояния, которое может пройти автомобиль без дозаправки, а именно 240 км. Все равно, по мнению владельцев экспериментальных автомобилей, этого мало.3.    В среднем за год каждый автомобиль проехал около 20 000 км, но это средние цифры. Одна из машин прошла более 60 000 км.4.   Для продажи такой машины реальному покупателю нужен специально подготовленный продавец. Специалисты из обычных автосалонов с многолетним стажем оказались не в состоянии ответить на вопросы покупателей, которые те задавали про Honda Clarity.Естественно, в таком благодатном штате, как Калифорния, покупатели могут рассчитывать на государственную субсидию при покупке автомобиля. Даже, более того, застройщики заправочных станций могут рассчитывать на субсидию. Но это лишь в одном, отдельно взятом штате. Весь мир пока не готов к такому кардинальному переходу на дешевое возобновляемое топливо, которое лишит доходов многие миллионы людей, зависящие от нефти и ее продаж.

Технические характеристики

Сам по себе автомобиль Clarity Fuel Cell хорош собой и явно выделяется среди своих железных собратьев. Множество аэродинамических накладок и грубоватых прямых линий выделяют модель на дороге. Само собой, что такой автомобиль не мог унаследовать платформу стандартной модели, поэтому была создана своя, уникальная, платформа с длиной 4,9 м, шириной 1,9 м, высотой 1,5 м. Конструкторы всячески пытались уменьшить массу автомобиля, применив алюминий и композитные материалы где только это было возможно, но масса автомобиля в конечном счёте равна 1800 кг, как у небольшого внедорожника.

Если уж идти по пути экологичности, то до конца. В салоне использовали синтетическую кожу и замшу. Панель приборов конечно же цифровая, изображение приборов можно показать, даже на лобовом стекле.

 Современный автомобиль обязательно обладает центральной мультимедийной системой. Здесь стоит 8-дюймовая система с сенсорным экраном, мультимедиа и навигационной системой. Для такого особого автомобиля и особая опция — мультимедийная система показывает все водородные заправки в округе. Что касается переключения передач, то здесь уж совсем скучно все сведено к маленьким кнопкам, а ручник и вовсе – маленький тумблер. Это очевидно, так как Clarity Fuel Cell не призвана удивлять ходовыми характеристиками, с ревом врываться в повороты или ездить по безумным ямам и ухабам. Это очень современное и технологичное средство передвижения.

Мощность электрического двигателя составляет 177 л. с. Момент силы равняется 300 Нм. До 100 км/ч разгоняется за 9,2 с. Запас хода такого автомобиля составит около 650 км. Водородная силовая установка работает на высоких оборотах, до 13 000 в минуту. Главное, что заправка очень дешева и занимает несколько минут.

Подвеска, как и у большинства автомобилей, передняя типа «МакФерсон», задняя — многорычажная.

Помимо прочего, имеется:•    климат-контроль;•    аудиосистема;•    система доступа без ключа;•    система, которая следит за соблюдением полосы движения;•    7 подушек безопасности.

Что для комфорта?

В салоне Clarity Fuel Cell просторно и удобно, так как регулируется практически все:•    рулевая колонка по высоте и глубине;•    водительское сиденье по высоте, глубине, углу наклона спинки и подголовника;•    пассажирское сиденье с аналогичными настройками.

При посадке на водительское место, первое, что оценивается – это материалы, которые применяются для отделки салона Clarity. Они довольно-таки приятные и в целом салон создает впечатление дорогого автомобиля. Рулевое колесо ведет себя так легко и так точно вписывает автомобиль в повороты, что создается впечатление компактной малолитражки, а не тяжелого седана, которым является Clarity. Просторность салона играет еще и психологическую роль, так как экологичные автомобили представляются компактными маленькими машинами. Модель Clarity меняет стереотипы и максимально обеспечивает комфорт водителя и пассажиров на уровне обыкновенного автомобиля с двигателем внутреннего сгорания. Возможно, салон рассматриваемой модели даже более удобен и привлекателен внешне, чем наружное оформление кузова. Эти угловатые элементы дизайна снаружи немного сбивают с толка и смотрятся не стандартно. Если такова задумка конструкторов, то она осуществилась. Кроме внешнего вида, придраться к остальным характеристикам не получится, так как японское качество и реализация идей оказались на высоте для этого класса автомобилей.

 Водительское сиденье регулируется в нескольких направлениях электродвигателями, сиденье переднего пассажира имеет те же возможности регулировки, кроме изменения высоты, эта возможность есть только у водителя. В целом салон автомобиля сделан для напоминания о том, что Clarity – автомобиль будущего, дизайн салона в некоторой степени футуристический. Удобство продумывалось до мелочей, например, подстаканники есть для каждого пассажира и водителя, а также имеются раскладные столики для пассажиров. Климат-контроль в Clarity двухзонный с раздельными регулировками для водителя и переднего пассажира.

Центральная панель очень высокая, с боксами для мелочей. Климат-контроль и описанные выше возможности мультимедийной системы делают поездку максимально комфортной. Для того чтобы не было аварий при парковке в тесных городских условиях, предусмотрена камера заднего вида. Для пассажиров, находящихся в задней части салона почти ничего не предусмотрено.

Автомобиль в состоянии интегрироваться с программным обеспечением смартфона на какой бы операционной системе он не работал. Вкратце, часть функций смартфона становится доступной к управлению с рулевого колеса. Необходимые для навигации, прослушивания музыки и функции совершения звонков будут выведены на главный экран мультимедийной системы автомобиля. Это исключит моменты, когда водитель отвлекается от управления.

Касательно управляемости автомобиля, его невозможно отличить от бензиновых аналогов. Он отлично держит дорогу, система курсовой устойчивости работает так же, как и в любом седане. Но, что непривычно, более медленное торможение, к которому нужно приспособиться. Это объясняется рекуперацией тормозного усилия, наподобие гибридных автомобилей, когда энергия движения через тормозные диски преобразуется в энергию электрическую и восстанавливает аккумулятор, подсевший за время поездки.

Дискомфорт вызывает только малое количество заправочных станций, присутствующие пока только в Японии, Германии, Дании и Калифорнии, а также высокая стоимость, которая в США составляет около 60 000 долларов. Еще один важный момент – нужно не забывать проходить техническое обслуживание один раз на 10 000 километров.

На пути к совершенству

 Компания Honda не впервые выходит на рынок с водородным автомобилем. Предыдущее поколение Clarity также было очень эффективным и современным. За счет модификации силового агрегата и топливных баков, удалось добиться их большей компактности, что, в свою очередь, позволяет разместить в салоне еще и пятого пассажира. 177 л. с. мощности, это на 30% больше, чем у предыдущей модели. Учитывая уменьшение силовой установки в размерах – техническое совершенство налицо.

С появлением на рынке каждого нового автомобиля с водородным топливным элементом, производитель начинает, так гордиться своим творением и утверждает, что в этот раз уж точно машина не является научным экспериментом и ей можно пользоваться в повседневной жизни без опасений. Новая Honda Clarity, наконец, подтверждает это заявление. Эта машина воплощает в жизнь ту цель, над которой работают инженеры водородной топливной отрасли длительное время - сделать автомобиль на водороде неотличимым по качеству вождения от традиционных машин. Построенный на специальной платформе, которая в этом году также будет положена в основу версии с батареей и гибрид, топливный элемент Clarity будет работать так же, как электрический автомобиль с батарейным питанием. Почти все замечания, которые были высказаны к предыдущему поколению Clarity, а именно: звук в салоне, напоминающий пылесос, плохая сборка, малая производительность — были устранены. После нажатия кнопки «Пуск» с места водителя почти никаких новых звуков не послышится. Если даже несильно нажать на педаль акселератора, мгновенная реакция машины не заставит себя ждать.


 Динамика набора скорости падает на отметке около 100 км/ч, но эта скорость уже граничит с максимально разрешенной, да и автомобиль, в конце концов, электрический. Снаружи, вблизи автомобиля, возможно, будет слышен звук потока воздуха от компрессора с электрическим приводом, подающий свежий воздух во встроенный генератор электромобиля. Звуки, издаваемые автомобилем не визжащие, которыми так отличалась предыдущая модель, оборудованная вентилятором типа Roots.Если оценивать объективно, то в худшем случае, водородная Clarity управляется как очень тяжелый седан, который полностью соответствует своим габаритам и не предназначен для причудливых танцевальных движений на дороге. Вес модели вплотную приближается к отметке в две тонны, несмотря на алюминиевый корпус, двери, крылья и багажник. Хонда говорит, что центр массы Clarity стал немного ниже, но преобладающее впечатление от вождения состоит в том, что машина имеет тяжелую переднюю часть. Особенно это чувствуется в поворотах и объяснимо ее заявленным распределением веса спереди и сзади 57/43. Рулевое управление является точным, но его можно усилить по центру. Выбор спортивного режима, обозначенного красной подсветкой для переключателя, дает более четкую реакцию акселератора, а также то, что будет приветствоваться на горных дорогах: более регенеративное торможение. Тормоза сами по себе точны и легко модулируются.

Среди особенностей работы бортового компьютера – гибкость его показаний в зависимости от манеры вождения. К примеру, утром компьютер может показать остаток запаса хода в 400 километров. Но днем, после пройденных по хорошей дороге в спокойном режиме 50-60 км, он может показать остаток 390 километров. Такое поведение компьютера может показаться непривычным.

Honda не раскрывает коэффициент сопротивления Clarity, но определенно на любой скорости не слышно ветровой турбулентности вокруг капота и боковых стекол, как в других автомобилях. Частично это связано со всеобъемлющим, комплексным подходом Honda по поддержанию тишины в салоне. Автомобиль оборудован акустическим стеклом, используемым не только для лобового, но и для стекол дверей. Также имеются и другие шумопоглощающие разработки, которые убирают шум дороги и звук работающего двигателя.

Наконец, отделка салона на 80 процентов состоит из легко разлагающихся, не наносящих вреда окружающей среде, материалов.


2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

At each new hydrogen-fuel-cell car introduction comes the assertion from the proud maker that its car is no longer a science experiment. The 2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell finally gives credence to that platitude. It actually realizes the potential that hydrogen-fuel-cell engineers have long worked toward: to make the fuel-cell hardware entirely invisible from the driving experience. Built on a dedicated platform that also will spawn a battery-electric version and a plug-in hybrid later this year, the fuel-cell Clarity drives just like a battery-powered electric car. Nearly all of the deal-breakers that have branded previous efforts as science experiments—the strident vacuum-cleaner sounds, poor packaging, sluggish performance—have been purged.

Hit the start button and there’s little to be heard from the driver’s seat. Press the accelerator moderately and the response is instantaneous and confidence inspiring—although the Clarity’s sprightliness fades somewhat above 60 mph or so. After all, the fuel-cell Clarity is an electric car; there are no dueling power sources sending torque to the wheels, just a single AC motor that delivers its peak 221 lb-ft right from the start. Step into it a little more and what you do hear, perhaps delayed by a second or two, is a turbulent whoosh of air from an electrically driven air compressor, force-feeding fresh air into this electric car’s onboard generator, the fuel-cell stack. The sounds lack any semblance of the whine made by the feline shriek of the Roots-type blower in the previous model, yet it supplies air at up to 70 percent greater pressure. It’s certainly a notch quieter than the Toyota Mirai, and ride quality isn’t bad either.

Otherwise, the fuel-cell Clarity drives like a very heavy Accord that is entirely aware of the added girth and doesn’t try any fancy dance moves. It tops 4000 pounds, despite an aluminum hood, doors, fenders, and trunklid. Honda says the Clarity’s center of mass is slightly lower than that of the Accord hybrid, but the prevailing impression is that it feels far more nose-heavy in tight corners than its claimed 57/43 front/rear weight distribution suggests. The steering is precise, but it could be weighted stronger on-center. Selecting Sport mode—signaled by red highlighting for the gauge cluster—gives you sharper accelerator response as well as what will be welcomed on mountain roads: more regenerative braking. The brakes themselves are precise and easy to modulate.

Honda doesn’t disclose the Clarity’s coefficient of drag, but you definitely don’t hear wind turbulence around the cowl and side glass at fast cruising speeds the way you do in the Chevrolet Bolt EV. That’s partly due to Honda’s comprehensive approach for keeping the cabin quiet. There’s acoustic glass used not just for the windshield but also for the door glass plus other noise-abating strategies that keep everything from road coarseness to motor whine at bay. Active noise cancellation was deemed unnecessary.

Stash the Stack

A fuel-cell stack consists of many waferlike layers, each of which harnesses a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, producing some waste heat, water vapor, and electricity. Honda has been working on hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles for 20 years, and in that time the fuel-cell stacks have gone from nearly steamer-chest sized to the volume of a modest carry-on suitcase. With this latest generation, Honda has pushed the efficiency of the stack over the 60 percent mark, increasing power to 103 kW, while cutting its physical volume by one-third. With the drive unit’s height reduced, too, the whole assembly (cell stack and motor) can fit under the hood for the first time, essentially taking up the same space as a V-6 engine and transaxle.

That rights some packaging weirdness of its predecessor, the FCX Clarity, in which Honda put the suitcase-sized fuel-cell stack between the front seats, cutting into interior space and making that vehicle a four-seater. With more space reserved for occupants, Honda has worked to normalize the interior packaging in the 2017 Clarity. There’s excellent space for four adults, with decent legroom all around and even reasonable headroom in back; five occupants fit, provided those in back don’t mind sitting close together. The front seats have long cushions and good support as well. There is one packaging sore point: The hydrogen is stored in two aluminum-lined, composite-reinforced cylindrical tanks; the larger of them (31 gallons) sits just behind the rear seatbacks and the smaller one (6 gallons) lies under the rear seats. The large hydrogen tanks enable a claimed 366-mile range, at the expense of cargo space. The trunk’s meager 12-cubic-foot volume is even worse than it sounds, as the space is deep only at the rearmost portion while one can only stuff softer items in what amounts to a ledge at the forward section. Also, there’s no folding rear seatback or pass-through.

Because the fuel cell still takes a few seconds to ramp up to its peak generation, an air-cooled, 1.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack (the size of a couple of laptops and located under the front seats) ensures that full power is always on tap. The pack acts as an energy buffer and has its own monitor at the far left side of the gauge cluster. Blast up to speed, foot to the floor—actually “waft” is a better term for it here, with apologies to Rolls-Royce—after you’ve been puttering along, and it’s the secret to the Clarity’s consistent, strong responses. You can churn through more than half of the battery’s reserves in well under a minute, but once the fuel cell has been whooshing away and you ease off the accelerator, the battery recovers rapidly, fed both from the stacks and from regenerative braking.

Clean Inside, Functionally Cluttered on the Outside

The design and styling of the Clarity are polarizing from the outside. From some angles it looks like it could be a future-generation Accord, while at other angles the Citroën DS comes to mind, and it’s peppered with hints of the original Insight—most notably in the two-piece rear glass that aids visibility. The design surely has more grace than that of the Toyota Mirai, and a few of the things that might look gimmicky are actually functional: For instance, the carved-out ducts in the lower rear doors are the first of their kind in any production sedan, Honda says.

The cabin is superbly trimmed, with high-quality finishes that would look at home in an Acura. Honda calls the interior concept Advanced Modern Lounge, which after some time in the car we read to mean mature and luxurious. Materials with a reduced environmental footprint have been used for nearly 80 percent of interior surface areas. The matte-finish, open-pore woodgrain on the dash isn’t real, Honda confessed, but it looks like it is.

Getting One’s Fill

One serious issue we’ve had with previous fuel-cell vehicles was getting a true fill—important if you need the vehicle’s maximum range. Honda claims to have solved this problem. The 10,000-psi tanks take just three to five minutes to fill, with full support from SAE’s J2601 protocol and its two-way communication to compensate for ambient air conditions.

Yet when we hopped into the car, with the tank having been filled less than 10 miles previous, the gauge cluster indicated 221 miles to empty—far less than the claimed 366-mile range. Again that afternoon, after another refilling, the estimated range briefly indicated around 260 miles before plummeting again. Officials said that the trip computer was responding to the way the car had been driven. Nevertheless, that’s a big gap, especially considering the trip computer indicated an average of about 55 miles per kilogram of hydrogen on a hilly, curvy route, followed by just over 60 miles per kilogram in more relaxed driving. The fuel-cell Clarity’s range estimate is based on an EPA-rated 68 MPGe city and 66 MPGe highway (one kilogram of hydrogen has roughly the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline, and the Clarity can hold 5.5 kilos).

At $16.47 per kilogram, based on the station we visited, those fill-ups would cost about $90. But as part of the Clarity’s $369-per-month lease—the only way you can get one, so never mind its $59,365 sticker price—Honda is throwing in both $15,000 worth of hydrogen (good for more than 50,000 miles, by our estimate) as well as up to 21 days of complimentary luxury-vehicle rentals for when you want to escape the Golden State or go out of town and not be in a cold sweat about range. The Clarity is also eligible for the sought-after California High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) sticker, which grants access to carpool lanes even when driving solo.

Locations, Locations, Locations

It’s unfortunate timing that such fuel-cell vehicles are arriving just as long-range electric cars are starting to make sense. That’s a sticking point. Honda officials are pragmatic about the prospects for fuel cells, given that in the foreseeable future no single technology is likely to win out. As one spokesperson put it, the FCX Clarity sold in the hundreds. Honda wants to sell the fuel-cell Clarity in the thousands, over several model years. Through a partnership with General Motors, a higher order of magnitude is within sight, as these automakers are collaboratively developing a smaller next-generation stack that will be assembled in Michigan.

The hydrogen fuel cell has come a long way, but its supporting infrastructure has not. Consider that there are about 150,000 places to refuel a gasoline-powered vehicle today in the U.S.—and jerry cans and AAA fills if you can’t seem to work with that. Go electric, and there are more than 2000 publicly accessible fast-charging locations in the U.S., where most electric cars can get the better part of a recharge in the time it takes to grab lunch; less ideally, there are more than 14,000 Level 2 charging locations where you could plug in for a few hours. And the 120-volt outlets at home or at work are a snail’s-pace backup. By contrast, there are just 26 publicly accessible hydrogen stations in California today—and California is the only state with retail pumps capable of delivering the 10,000 psi needed to properly fill the Clarity.

Each hydrogen fueling station has a price tag of nearly $1 million. There are 23 more hydrogen stations under construction in California that are expected to open by the end of the year. A dozen Air Liquide hydrogen stations will open in the Northeast this year —just in time for fuel-cell-favorable California ZEV mandate requirements that will soon extend to several of those states.

We can’t predict whether hydrogen vehicles will go down as a failed experiment or the start of a sea change. Provided you’re okay in the living laboratory, which is essentially the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas (plus a waypoint in between at Harris Ranch and an outpost near Lake Tahoe), the fuel-cell Clarity makes a viable second car—not just because Honda has subsidized it so heavily but because it’s pleasant to drive. Perhaps most compelling of all, though, is the sheer science of it.

Specifications >

VEHICLE TYPE: front-motor, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

LEASE PRICE: $369/month with a $2868 down payment

MOTOR TYPE: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 174 hp, 221 lb-ft; 1.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack

FUEL-CELL TYPE: proton-exchange membrane, 103 kW

TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive

DIMENSIONS:Wheelbase: 108.3 inLength: 192.7 inWidth: 73.9 in Height: 58.2 inPassenger volume: 102 cu ftTrunk volume: 12 cu ftCurb weight (C/D est): 4150 lb

PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):Zero to 60 mph: 8.3 secZero to 100 mph: 27.0 secStanding ¼-mile: 16.5 secTop speed: 105 mph

FUEL ECONOMY:EPA combined/city/highway driving: 67/68/66 MPGe


2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Release Date, Price and Specs

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The new Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is both the successor to the FCX Clarity, which was produced in limited quantities between 2008 and 2014, and the first in a new series of Clarity vehicles that will span the gamut of modern green alternative fuels. We know that the tech inside the car works and does so reliably, but the future of the fuel that powers it is still uncertain. It's both a safe bet and a big risk, for both the automaker and the prospective buyer.

I spent a week with one of the very first, rare examples on the road in America to learn what it's like to daily drive, fill up and live with Honda's best bet for our automotive future.

The most common element, the rarest of fuels

Like that model that preceded it, this Clarity is a car that runs silently by converting hydrogen fuel into electricity to drive the wheels with the only tailpipe emission being pure water. You could actually drink this car's emissions -- it wouldn't taste like much, lacking the minerals of tap or bottled water, but it wouldn't harm you at all.

The hydrogen is stored in two high-pressure hydrogen tanks near the rear of the Clarity's oddly shaped body. A large tank is tucked in the trunk, just behind the back seats, and a smaller tank is nestled beneath that second-row bench. Total hydrogen capacity is just over 5 kilograms -- that's how the compressed gas is measured and metered -- which takes about 5 minutes to fill at the pump. The process of filling up is easy: swipe your credit card, lock the pump nozzle onto the Clarity's filling nipple and wait for the system to finish pumping chilled hydrogen into the tanks.

Despite being the most common element in the universe, hydrogen has proven to be one of the rarest alternative fuel sources for cars. At time of publication, there are only 22 publicly accessible filling stations in the state of California. With the aid of services like the California Fuel Cell Partnership, I was able to see that only six of those are in the San Francisco Bay Area, but that number will double in early 2017.

Compare that to the hundreds of EV charging stations in the same area and it looks bleak for hydrogen drivers. However, that doesn't account for the fact that -- with charging times measured in minutes, rather than hours -- each of those hydrogen stations can services many more cars than an EV charging point. An occupied hydrogen pump means you'll have to wait a few minutes. Pulling up to an occupied EV charger usually means you've gotta find another charger.

During my week with the Clarity, I filled the tank twice. Upon delivery, approximately half a tank cost about $90. Near the end of my week, three-quarters of a tank cost me $68. The high cost and volatility of the price caused concern for nearly everyone I talked to about the Clarity. Both Honda and CAFCP hope that the price will drop by 25 to 50 percent by 2020 as the infrastructure continues to grow, but those are just estimates. For now, the Clarity's operations cost per mile are about in line with paying $5.60 per gallon of gasoline.

To relieve the sticker shock, Honda is essentially offering to pay for the Claritys' fuel with a $15,000 hydrogen allowance over a three-year lease term.

The improved hydrogen fuel cell

OK, so that's a lot of talk about how you get the fuel into the Clarity's tanks. Now what does it do with that fuel?

Well, without getting too science-y, the Clarity's fuel-cell stack combines hydrogen molecules with oxygen molecules pulled from the air to create water molecules. Electrons are released in the process making electricity that is used to power a 174-horsepower electric motor that moves the front wheels with 221 pound-feet of torque via a single-speed transmission.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The Clarity's powertrain also features a lithium ion battery pack that's about the same size and capacity as the Accord Hybrid's and is located beneath the front seats. The pack's purpose is to store and release electricity captured during regenerative braking and coasting, and to serve as a buffer for excess electricity generated by the hydrogen fuel cell when, for example, idling.

Below the stack, the system is largely identical to any other electric car with few moving parts and almost completely silent operation save a hum from the electric motor and the occasional whoosh from an electric turbocharger that force feeds oxygen to the fuel cell during hard acceleration.

The stack itself is 33 percent smaller when compared to the OG FCX Clarity, but with about 60 percent better power density. The new stack is so small that the whole fuel cell and electric motor package is now just a bit more compact than the automaker's gasoline 3.5-liter V6 engine, which you'll find beneath the hood of your average Accord.

Efficiency is stated in the neighborhood of 60-plus miles per kilogram of hydrogen fuel. Conveniently, the mile per H₂ kilogram measurement is numerically close to a gasoline mile per gallon equivalent (within an MPGe or two), making comparisons with electric, hybrid and conventional gasoline cars easier. I averaged 57.7 miles per kilogram during my weeks of testing, thanks to my being far too easily amused by electric torque and the novelty of hearing the electric turbo spin up when I accelerated a bit harder than absolutely necessary.

Eco car aerodynamics

Built with efficiency in mind, the Clarity features an aerodynamic humpback profile that is so typical of nearly all post-Prius eco cars. Drag coefficients haven't been stated by the automaker, but we're told that it's slippery, and we do know of a few features that help the Clarity cut through the air efficiently.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

For example, at all four corners are small air intakes that force air through small openings ahead of each wheel, creating turbulence reducing air skirts at high speeds. Also, the fuel cell's lack of exhaust hardware or need for catalytic converters allows the sedan's undertray to be nearly flat reducing drag.

Despite its gently sloping profile, the Clarity is a sedan with a discrete trunk, not a hatchback. What's odd is that it has a small window just below the rear parcel shelf that allows the driver to look through the trunk and out of a second small window at the back of the car by glancing in the rear view mirror. It's an interesting novelty that I would guess is necessary so that Honda could boost the cargo capacity to compensate for space lost to the large hydrogen tank. Whatever the reason, this odd split view out of the back does help a bit with rear visibility.

Living with Clarity

Over the course of my week with the Clarity, I noticed a few quirks like how the fuel-cell powertrain continues to hum for many minutes after the car has been shut down, locked and walked away from. I'm not sure if the system was cooling itself or continuing to generate and store electricity while parked, but the behavior led to a number of confused queries from passengers and well-meaning passersby. "No, I didn't leave the car running. Yes, it's supposed to do that... I think."

On the road, the Clarity feels remarkably unremarkable, but that's probably because I've driven a lot of electric cars -- this is basically an EV with a different type of "battery" -- and also sort of the point. Acceleration for passes and merges is quite good, thanks to the torque-y electric motor and the sedan feels solid at city speeds. At highway speeds, the torque advantage is lessened, but the ride is remarkably quiet aside from a bit of wind noise.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Though it pulls from a stop like an EV, the fuel cell doesn't have that same low center of gravity that you'd get from an electric car with a heavy battery pack in the floor, but the trade-off is that the sedan doesn't feel as heavy as a battery EV and is a smooth and pleasurable drive at "dad speeds." Handling is about as good as an Accord or the old Accord Crosstour. The Clarity feels about as large as either of these, with similarly tuned steering feel.

There is a Sport mode toggle on the center console that boosts the throttle response and regenerative braking to simulate engine braking, but even with the boosts and instant-on torque this is no sports car. It's got some get-up-and-go, but on the whole, the Clarity feels tuned for efficiency, comfort and inoffensiveness.

Believe it or not, the "nothing fancy" nature of driving the Clarity is probably one of the strongest arguments in its favor, because while many of us enjoy a bit of novelty and gee-whiz in our drive, most are looking for familiarity from a commuter. The Clarity's range, filling behaviors and driving character are very much in line with gasoline cars. Those conventions will eventually make its adoption an easier green transition for the regular drivers that Honda is courting with this generation than EVs, which often require anxiety-generating changes in driving and refilling behaviors.

Good standard tech, not that you've a choice

Interestingly, the Clarity features only one trim level with all of the available features being standard. The only choice you'll have is what color you want, and even then you can only pick from white, black or red. The bright side of this lack of choice is that you get all of the tech without having to ask for it or pay extra.

That includes adaptive cruise control which also works at low speeds in stop-and-go traffic, lane departure alert and prevention and a standard head-up display (HUD) that projects speed and navigation information onto the windshield. You also get a standard rear camera, Honda's LaneWatch side camera and forward precollision alert with auto-braking intervention.

What you don't get is any sort of automatic parking, a true blind-spot monitoring system or any sort of parking proximity sensors or cross-traffic alerts, which would make great tech additions on a car this large with such a futuristic powertrain.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

At 8 inches, the center HondaLink infotainment display is the largest that the automaker offers and looks more tablet-like than ever jutting away from the dashboard like it does here. The Android-powered software boasts the same very good Garmin maps and navigation software, solid feature set and snappy response to touch inputs that we've come to expect from the likes of the new Civic and HR-V.

And if you're not a fan of Honda's onboard software, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported out of the box, so you can bring your own experience to the touchscreen.

Taking fuel cells mainstream

Exact pricing for the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell hasn't been announced, but educated guesses put the sedan at about $60,000 when it hits the road in the coming months. The Clarity feels like solid technology that's easy to live with, but is nonetheless waiting for the infrastructure to catch up with it.

Plans to double the number of hydrogen filling stations in California and to create a hydrogen network on the East Coast could pave the way for hydrogen going mainstream, but only if those plans -- which are dependent on state and federal government intervention to some extent -- reach completion. The Clarity Fuel Cell's modular design and compact powertrain pave the way for it to be joined next year by battery electric and gasoline plug-in hybrid variants, so it looks like even Honda is hedging its bets and not just letting it all ride on hydrogen's success.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

If there's a station near you -- which means you live in one of California's major city centers -- fuel cell technology can be almost as convenient and normal feeling as its gasoline hybrid stablemates, but it's also a bit more expensive per mile for the short term future.

Hydrogen rivals

If you've gotten this far and still think that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are for you, there's one more decision to face: Honda Clarity or the Clarity's fiercest competitor, Toyota's Mirai.

The Honda has the range advantage at 366 miles versus the Mirai's 312 miles, but with five-minute fill-ups that is less of an advantage for those who live near hydrogen filling stations. Meanwhile, the two vehicles have very similarly stated fuel efficiency estimates in the high 60 mile per kilogram range. The Honda also strikes with a size advantage. It's a much larger car with more room for people and cargo; plus, its seating configuration accommodates five butts versus the Toyota's four.

In the Mirai's favor, sometimes a smaller car is desirable, and the Toyota is expected to be less expensive than the Honda if the announced lease terms for both vehicles is any indicator.

I'd give the advantage to the Honda for now, but am reserving judgement until we get extended time behind the wheel of the Mirai. Based on these initial impressions and both automakers' offers of extensive three-year hydrogen fuel subsidies to ease transition to the alternative fuel, it's going to be a close call.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow


Тест-драйв / Мужское / Лента.co

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Водородный автомобиль от Хонда, будущее уже рядом

Если Вы — владелец машины на водороде, то Вам наверняка приходится тратить много времени на поиски специализированной АЗС. Ведь на большинстве автозаправочных станций заправляют транспортные средства исключительно бензином и дизельным топливом. Правда, в США водителям водородных автомобилей приходится легче — там потрачено много миллиардов долларов на то, чтобы создать для них всю необходимую инфраструктуру. Американские автолюбители могут заправить свою машину водородом по цене 2,5 долл. за один галлон (примерно 3,8 л).

В последнее время транспортные средства на водородных элементах пользуются довольно стабильным спросом. В частности, их выбирают автолюбители, которые заботятся об экологии. Вместе с тем, их производство поддерживают власти многих стран, так как использование машин на водороде экономит запасы нефти.

Впрочем, подавляющее большинство автолюбителей не спешат менять обычный автомобиль на машину, заправляемую водородом. И дело здесь не столько в отсутствии должной инфраструктуры. Просто транспортные средства на водородных элементах прихотливы в обслуживании и отличаются небольшим салоном. Последний пришлось сделать маленьким в силу конструкционных особенностей машины, так как силовая установка на водородных топливных элементах занимает много места. Единственным утешением для водителей может стать дизайн автомобиля. Как правило, такие машины выглядят ультрасовременно и выгодно отличаются на фоне обычных транспортных средств.

А теперь давайте поговорим, собственно, о самой Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Автопроизводитель позиционирует эту машину как большой седан. Она изготовлена из высококачественных материалов. Первое, что бросается в глаза – хромированная распорка радиаторной решетки, к которой с обеих сторон прилегают удлиненные фары. Несмотря на заверение производителя о том, что Honda Clarity Fuel Cell является седаном, ее с некоторой долей натяжки можно назвать полноценным внедорожником, в который без проблем поместятся пять взрослых людей. Что нетипично для автомобилей, которые оснащены работающей на водороде установкой.

Также мы обратили пристальное внимание на трансмиссию Honda Clarity Fuel Cell — она оставила приятное впечатление. В целом компания Honda сделала в «трансмиссионном» направление колоссальную работу. При этом Вы можете найти несколько видов хороших трансмиссий в таких моделях, как электрическая и водородная версии Ford Focus, Hyundai Tucson. Кстати, последняя машина является гибридной, то есть, она использует не только водород, но и обычный бензин. Сюда же можно отнести и Hyundai Ioniq.

Но все они меркнут на фоне Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, так как эта машина выпускается сразу в трех версиях – электрической, гибридной и водородной. В настоящий момент в США реализуется лишь модель, которая заправляется водородом. Другие же версии Honda Clarity Fuel Cell появятся на американском рынке в течение нынешнего года.

Предлагаем вновь заглянуть в салон автомобиля. Как уже упоминалось, он очень большой. Причем пространства хватает как спереди, так и сзади. Например, пассажир, который расположится по правую руку от водителя, сможет спокойно держать на вытянутых руках iPad или поставить под ноги объемную сумку. Хватает места и на приборной панели — на нее можно складировать много полезных вещей. К слову, сама приборная панель выглядит элегантно, даже несмотря на то, что имеет угловатые линии. В этом есть определенный шарм.

Но, как известно, в каждой бочке меда отыщется ложка с дегтем. Применительно к Honda Clarity Fuel Cell ею является странное отверстие в центре приборной панели. Оно довольно большое. Однако его предназначение нам выяснить так и не удалось.

Разработчики Honda Clarity Fuel Cell хорошо потрудились и над убранством салона. В частности, они обтянули сидения эко-материалом — это искусственная замша, которая изготовлена из переработанной кожи. Наверное, таким образом Honda решила заявить о своей приверженности «зеленому» движению, которое нынче в тренде. Однако многие автолюбители могут банально не оценить данного стремления, так как, в первую очередь, их интересует цена. А эко-материалы стоят немалых денег.

Цилиндрические водородные резервуары занимают много пространства, именно поэтому их часто размещают за задними сидениями. Но специалисты из компании Honda проделали грандиозную работу, чтобы устранить этот недостаток и сделать салон более просторным. В итоге им удалось значительно сократить топливные элементы. При этом они учли опыт предыдущей модели, где часть установки располагалась между водительским и пассажирским сидениями.

Вместе с тем, автолюбителей волнует и другой актуальный вопрос — как узнать показатель эффективности машины на водородных элементах, учитывая расход топлива на одну милю? Что ж, для начала необходимо перевести галлоны в килограммы. Но не будем сильно углубляться в эту тему, так как она подразумевает довольно сложные математические расчеты. Достаточно сказать, что Honda Clarity Fuel Cell выгодно отличается от электромобилей, которые способны проехать без подзарядки всего лишь 366 миль (около 588 км).

Honda громко заявила о себе на весь мир и высоко подняла ставки. В будущем она не имеет права снижать планку, в противном случае ей суждено оказаться в числе неконкурентоспособных автопроизводителей. Пока же Honda Clarity Fuel Cell остается единственной машиной, которая наглядно демонстрирует, как будет выглядеть автомобиль будущего.

Поговорим теперь о комфорте водителя. Садясь за руль Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, автолюбитель испытывает двоякое чувство. С одной стороны, он оказывается в привычном для себя просторном салоне. Но стоит ему завести двигатель, как происходит что-то странное — слышен едва уловимый шум. Вам может показаться, что Вас посадили за руль электромобиля. Но самое интересное начинается потом — Honda Clarity Fuel Cell трогается с места неспешно, как бы нехотя. Автомобиль не издает сильных шумов и в процессе движения, даже, если водитель переключится на спортивный режим езды. На первый взгляд, это может показаться преимуществом. Но на самом деле водитель не чувствует динамичности двигателя. В данном случае Toyota Mirai, которая также заправляется водородом, превосходит Honda ClarityFuel Cell. При этом водородная модель от компании Toyota оснащена дополнительным электродвигателем мощностью 151 л. с. А вот ее водородный мотор эквивалентен 174 л. с. Разница небольшая. Однако, когда водитель нажимает на педаль акселератора Toyota Mirai, то он слышит его приглушенный рокот.

Однако невзирая на различные показатели, нынешнее поколение седанов, оснащенных водородной установкой, не должны оцениваться исключительно по их производительности. В конце концов, подобные машины только начинаю завоевывать симпатии автолюбителей.  Также не будем критиковать и правительства некоторых стран, которые не желают развивать инфраструктуру для таких машин. Всему свое время. Рано или поздно водородные автомобили заполонят улицы наших городов. А уже сейчас для приверженцев водородных транспортных средств есть хорошая новость — та же Honda Clarity Fuel Cell поддерживает LaneWatch и carplay от Apple/Android. Помимо этих полезных опций, машина укомплектована современной системой безопасности.

К сожалению, не каждый автолюбитель сможет позволить себе купить Honda Clarity Fuel Cell - его цена достигает 58 490 долл. Но у американских водителей есть уникальная возможность арендовать этот автомобиль. Например, в Калифорнии официальные дилеры Honda предлагают взять в аренду Honda Clarity Fuel Cell на год и более. Один месяц пользования этим автомобилем обойдется водителю в 369 долл. При этом его можно будет заправлять совершенно бесплатно — стоимость топлива включена в аренду. Правда, здесь есть один нюанс — в отличие от других штатов, в Калифорнии есть только около двух десятков водородных АЗС.

У Honda, несомненно, большие перспективы — она постоянно вкладывает большие финансовые средства в развитие инновационных технологий. Это видно на примере разработанной ею водородной силовой установки. Но в будущем японская компания может столкнуться с серьезными проблемами. Одна из них – нежелание нефтедобывающих компаний уходить с рынка. Впрочем, последнее слово будет за автолюбителями — если они массово пересядут на водородные машины, то автомобильный рынок кардинально изменится. Ждать осталось недолго. Ну а пока водители могут арендовать Honda Clarity Fuel Cell и лично убедиться в том, насколько хороша эта машина. Возможно, она придется им по душе, однако не исключено, что их постигнет разочарование. В любом случае, время покажет.

Автор: Сергей Василенков


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