Honda’s first mass market fuel cell car has taken a lot of different forms as it evolves into something that you can buy at a dealership. The first prototypes were shown all of the way back in 1999, then there were a number of test vehicles build from there. Another concept showed up in 2006, followed by the FCX Clarity in 2008, which was produced and leased in very limited numbers for research purposes. Then Honda showed off a concept of an actual production model at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, and the name of the project changed from FCX to FCV.

This represents a change from “Fuel Cell eXperimental” to “Fuel Cell Vehicle”, signaling that Honda is finally serious about putting the car into production, even if it does have a tremendously uncreative name. Now Honda is announcing that a production-ready version of the car will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, along with a real name, and a few teaser photos have come out as well. The car has been toned down from the concept, obviously, but the evolution of the model is still evident in the new design. And although Toyota might has beaten Honda to market with its own fuel cell car, this is still a very important vehicle.

Updated 10/29/2015: Honda dropped the official details on the next generation Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle during its official debut at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. Sales in Japan will begin in early 2016, with Europe to follow later in the year.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Honda FCV.


2016 Honda FCV
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2016 Honda FCV
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2016 Honda FCV
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The design on the car’s exterior shares a lot with the Detroit concept, and is mostly just a functional version of the same design. The front fascia has been slightly revised, with a lower grille portion being added and the chrome strip running across the front having been made smaller to allow for more airflow. This is an improvement over the concept, as the strip was a bit much there, but the finished product doesn’t look all that different from any other Honda product. You certainly wouldn’t know that there was anything special about the car when looking at it head on.

They are reminiscent of the much more aggressive skirts on the first generation Insight

The wheels have carried over from the concept, and so has the glass roof and seemingly superfluous vents in the bodywork, but the more surprising feature to have been carried over is the skirts over the rear wheels. They are reminiscent of the much more aggressive skirts on the first generation Insight, and one wonders if Honda’s designers are look for customers to make a connection between alternative fuels and wheel skirts. Whatever the case, these skirts at least won’t be such a pain when the need arises to change a flat.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 4,895 MM
Width 1,875 MM
Height 1,475 MM
Occupants 5


2016 Honda FCV
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The interior of the car has been toned down a lot from the concept, and made a lot more practical. Things like the concepts’s U-shaped steering wheel weren’t something we were really expecting to see on the production vehicle, and neither was the spaceship-style heads-up display that served as a gauge cluster. But the overall layout and design of the production car interior is still obviously influenced by the concept.

It even has a tablet-style infotainment system that protrudes from the dash instead of being incorporated into it. There are some extra climate control buttons beneath it, but this is otherwise straight from the concept. The wood trim has been toned down, but what is left does look good. In all, it is a much more practical version of the interior, but still different enough from other Hondas that you know you’re looking at something special.


2016 Honda FCV
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This is obviously the whole reason for this car existing. The FCV is an electric car that uses hydrogen fuel cells in place of the batteries used by more conventional electrics. A Couple of other mass-market hydrogen cars already exist, in the form of Hyundai’s fuel cell version of the Tucson, and the only dedicated fuel cell mass-market car, the Toyota Mirai. What will set the Honda apart from these other vehicles is that Honda intends to fit all of the fuel cell workings under the hood, with the fuel tank remaining at the back, and a pair of lithium-ion batteries under the seats. This will allow for a layout and weight setup that is more like a conventional car, although whether or not that will actually be beneficial remains to be seen. Output is rated at 174 horsepower, which is a perfectly reasonable amount for this sort of car, and more importantly, 22 more than the Toyota Mirai puts out.

Honda is saying the car will have of a range of more than 700km (437.5 miles) on one tank of fuel, and this is where we get into the advantage of a hydrogen vehicle. Not only is this range quite a bit better than even some of the very expensive battery vehicles out there, refueling also doesn’t take any longer than it would to fuel a car with an internal combustion engine. Infrastructure remains a hindrance to this, but that is expected to change as adoption picks up. The only emissions at point of operation are a bit of heat and water, although much like battery EVs, that doesn’t mean that the fuel’s point of origin doesn’t create emissions.

Drivetrain Specifications

Range per full tank (km) Over 700
Refuelling time Approx. 3 minutes
Maximum fuel cell output (kW) Over 100
Fuel stack output density (kW/L) 3.1
Maximum motor output (kW) 174 HP
Maximum hydrogen tank pressure (MPa) 70
Energy storage method Lithium-ion battery


Honda hasn’t released any prices just yet, but don’t expect it to be cheap. Judging by the pricing of what little competition for this car at this point, a good estimate would put the price at around $60,000. There will likely be some relatively small incentives, but for most people who want to drive an electric car, a battery vehicle will be the only reasonably priced option for at least a few more years. This is especially true because the car is only going to sold in a few select markets, as is always the case with hydrogen vehicles thus far.


Toyota Mirai

2016 Toyota Mirai High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The first dedicated mass-market fuel cell vehicle in the world, the Mirai is the car that Toyota is using to feel out the hydrogen market. It’s a risk, but it’s the kind of risk that paid off big for Toyota with the Prius, and if Toyota can dominate the fuel cell market the way it dominates hybrids, then it will all have been worth it. Toyota has done job of publicizing the vehicle, even giving one to Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan.

Read more about the Toyota Mirai here.

Hyundai Tucson FCEV

2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell High Resolution Exterior
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You would have to want to have a fuel cell vehicle a lot in order to pay somewhere around 60 grand for a Tucson. That said, this is the only choice there is for a fuel cell SUV. These were the actual first mass-market fuel cell vehicles in the world, it’s just a little different because they’re based on an existing model. That makes the Tucson FCEV a bit less sexy, but it’s still such a small market niche that that’s okay.

Read more about the Hyundai Tucson FCEV here.


2016 Honda FCV
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When it came to fuel cell vehicles, Honda must not have wanted to repeat the mistake it made with hybrids of not starting off with a mainstream dedicated model. The Insight was too niche, and the Civic Hybrid lacked the eco-sexiness that comes with dedicated models like the Prius or anything from Tesla. So for the company’s first mass-market hydrogen car, this seems to be the correct route to take. Moreover, the somewhat usual (and some might even say vaguely futuristic) look of the car should also be good for this, as this seems to be the best approach when it comes to selling alternative fuel cars.

  • Leave it
    • Almost no infrastructure anywhere
    • Much too expensive
    • Wheel skirts are weird
Jacob Joseph
About the author

Press Release

Honda, the pioneer of hydrogen fuel cell technology has unveiled its next generation Clarity Fuel Cell today at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show.

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Next generation Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle unveiled at 2015 Tokyo Motor Show
Best-in-class range comparable to fossil fuel-powered vehicles
Clarity Fuel Cell set for 2016 introduction in selected European markets

Incorporating Honda’s most advanced technologies, the Clarity Fuel Cell is the world’s first production model of a fuel cell powered sedan to house the entire fuel cell stack and drivetrain system in the space normally occupied by the engine and transmission. The Clarity Fuel Cell will be commercially available in Japan from early 2016. Further information on the European launch of the vehicle will follow in 2016.

World-first packaging solution

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The packaging of the Clarity Fuel Cell has been inspired by Honda’s principle of man maximum, machine minimum. Through minimising the space utilised by the powertrain, Honda has been able to achieve a level of interior space that allows five adults to be comfortably accommodated as would be expected in a conventionally powered sedan. The size of the fuel cell stack and the power generation unit have been reduced through Honda’s advanced technologies to a size comparable to a V6 engine.

Despite the compact nature of the fuel cell powertrain, Honda’s advanced technologies have ensured world-leading fuel cell stack performance. Honda’s original wave flow channel separators are more advanced than ever, while the cells now feature a higher output and a more slender shape thanks to a 1 mm (20%) reduction in the thickness of each cell. These advances combine to make the fuel cell stack 33% more compact than the stack used in the original FCX Clarity. This improvement is highly impressive as it has been achieved in parallel with an increase in maximum motor output to 130 kW (177ps) and a power density increased by 60% to 3.1 kW/L.

Class-leading convenience

The Clarity Fuel Cell is equipped with a high-pressure tank capable of storing hydrogen gas at 70 MPa, increasing the mass of hydrogen that can be stored and extending the range of the vehicle. Coupled with the efficient powertrain and reduced vehicle energy consumption, the Clarity Fuel Cell achieves a best-in-class fuel cell vehicle range per full tank of over 700 km1 (435miles).

In addition, the high-pressure tank can be quickly refilled, the process taking approximately three minutes at 70 MPa and 20oC. These and other benefits give the Clarity Fuel Cell a day-to-day convenience customers are used to with their traditional petrol or diesel powered vehicles.

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An exhilarating driving experience

Engineered to use the high output of Honda’s fuel cell stack and the power assist of the lithium-ion battery pack, a high-output motor provides power to the driven wheels together with instant and powerful acceleration. Due to the continuously increasing torque provided by the high-output 130 kW (177 PS) motor with no need for gears, the Clarity Fuel Cell achieves perfectly smooth acceleration anywhere from zero to maximum speed.

The direct response, exhilarating drive and quiet cabin together form an appealing combination. Clarity Fuel Cell offers the driver two driving modes: the ‘Normal’ mode provides a balance between fuel economy and driving performance, while ‘Sport’ prioritises a more responsive acceleration feeling.

Outstanding design

The exterior of Clarity Fuel Cell has been designed to give an imposing presence on the road while maintaining a strong aerodynamic profile. Full-LED headlights with a sharp, slender profile and 18-inch aluminium wheels with an aerodynamic and stylish design complete the look.

The interior of Clarity Fuel Cell combines an advanced yet refined atmosphere designed to provide the driver with a relaxing and comfortable driving environment. The advanced driver interface uses Honda’s design principles of instant recognition and intuitive control. Simple and outstandingly spacious, the interior features premium, comforting materials that make driving an experience to anticipate and enjoy.

Honda Clarity in Europe and participation in HyFIVE project

Honda is scheduled to launch the Clarity Fuel Cell in a limited number of European markets in 2016. Honda is one of five automotive companies that make up the HyFIVE consortium, and will supply vehicles that will be part of a 110 strong European fleet to highlight and promote the development, use and viability of this new technology.

2016 Honda FCV Wallpaper quality
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In UK, Honda has worked with suppliers to encourage the local production and consumption of energy by establishing a solar-powered hydrogen refuelling station in the grounds of Honda of the UK Manufacturing in Swindon. This station is open to the public (subject to registration) and able to refuel any fuel cell vehicle.

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