The Honda FCX Clarity FCEV is a fuel cell electric vehicle. In fact, the name stands for FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle.
The first concept car by Honda came out in 2006. Production models of the car came out in 2008. The car ended production in 2014 with the 2015 model year. Honda also discontinued the Honda Accord hybrid and natural gas versions due to weak demand, to focus on redesigned vehicles that approach forty miles per gallon. This would improve the environmental footprint of the Honda lineup while keeping it in alignment with the much higher CAFÉ standards.
In 2012, the CAFÉ standard was 27.5 miles per gallon for the fleet, with trucks having a lower fuel efficiency requirement. The 2025 CAFÉ standards are set at 54.5 mpg for combined city/highway driving, though this is subject to legal challenge. The Toyota Prius C in 2015 achieved 46 mpg on the highway and 53 in the city. The Mercedes-Benz's E250 Bluetec Sedan approached 40 miles per gallon average fuel efficiency in 2015 tests by Road and Track. However, the ambitious CAFÉ standards by the EPA for 2025 are not sustainable by current gas-powered vehicles on the market unless they are electric, hence the legal challenges. Honda’s abandonment of several hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles that never sold more than a few thousand a year is an effort to devote its engineering efforts to meeting the rising CAFÉ standards, even if the 50+ mpg standard doesn’t stand up in court.
The Honda FCX Clarity FCEV has a hydrogen tank that stores the hydrogen. The hydrogen is brought into the stack of fuel cells to react with the hydrogen to create power to run the system. A vertical (V) flow fuel cell stack in the FCEV generates electricity, used to both power the engine and run interior devices like the air conditioning and radio. It has a lithium ion batter to store electricity. The PDU or power drive unit governs the electrical flow. The Honda FCX Clarity FCEV itself is propelled by an electric drive motor. Its only byproduct is water, making the Honda FCX Clarity FCEV a zero emissions vehicle.
The Honda FCX Clarity FCEV averaged 60 miles per kilogram of hydrogen. The price of hydrogen was $5 to $10 per kilogram. This was equal to around 8 miles per dollar of fuel, or paying 15 cents per mile for fuel. A car that gets 20 miles per gallon with four dollar a gallon gas costs around 20 cents per mile for fuel. However, when gas prices dropped to two dollars a gallon, the hydrogen fuel became much more expensive than its gas powered rivals.
The Honda FCX Clarity FCEV was only available for lease in the United States when it first came out. The Honda FCX Clarity FCEV was only available in southern California where hydrogen fuel stations were available.
There were only a few dozen of the Honda FCX Clarity FCEV vehicles available for lease in the US through the 2010s.
All electric rivals to the Honda FCX Clarity FCEV include the Chevy Spark EV, Volkswagen e-Golf, Fiat 500E, Smart Fourtwo, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf, Honda Insight Hybrid, and Ford Focus Electric.
Gas-electric hybrid rivals to the Honda FCX Clarity FCEV include the Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Toyota Prius. and Ford Fusion hybrid.
The cost of buying any electric or hybrid vehicle is partially offset by an American federal tax rebate of $7,500 offered to those who purchase qualifying hybrid or electric vehicles. This is on top of state tax rebates available in California and Georgia, such as the $5,000 California state rebate for buying or leasing this car. Customers get a carpool sticker with purchase of the FCX Clarity in California. In California, this car can also be driven in the HOV lane even with a single driver.
Those who bought the 2005 and 2006 versions were found eligible for the $12,000 Section 30B(b) credit by the IRS.