CARS.COM — The future of Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle is coming into focus. The automaker announced today that the next generation of its hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will arrive in the U.S. later this year for the 2017 model year, and will be followed by the rest of the three-model Clarity lineup that introduces electric and plug-in electric hybrid variants.
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“Even as we continue to make important advancements in our joint fuel cell research and development initiative with General Motors aiming for the introduction of a next-generation fuel cell powertrain by 2020,” Honda said in a statement, “the 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell has achieved a significant breakthrough in packaging, with the entire fuel cell powertrain fitting under the hood of the car.”
The 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell follows Honda’s FCX Clarity. Honda said the packaging advancements of the new model are critical to furthering its hydrogen-powered platform. The automaker remains steadfast that hydrogen fuel-cell technology is a viable long-term solution to carbon-emissions issues.
The Clarity Fuel Cell, which we most recently saw in November at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, aims to make hydrogen-powered cars more practical with a 300-mile range and a three- to five-minute refueling time. U.S. hydrogen refueling stations remain few, however, with only two dozen nationwide, 21 of which are in California where most of these cars are likely to be sold. The five-seat sedan will start around $60,000, with a lease price of less than $500 a month; it will be available in select California markets, Honda said.
Following the launch of the Clarity Fuel Cell later this year will be the Clarity Electric next year, followed by the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. All models will share the same platform, including proportions, seating capacity and interior materials. A multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility will be available, as well as standard driver-assistance features.
The plug-in version will have an estimated all-electric driving range of 40 miles, with a range-extending gas engine. Honda anticipates the plug-in will be the Clarity lineup’s volume leader; it will be available in all 50 states.