Driving to the Future:

Honda has been leasing hydrogen-driven fuel cell cars since 2002 to selected customers, and has finally confirmed a date for formal launch and production of its FCV: March 2016 in Japan, with sales in the US and Europe to follow. Name to be announced nearer to the time. Latest version was unveiled in Tokyo this week – timed to coincide with Toyota’s launch of the Mirai – and Honda’s claiming a first in its powertrain layout: the entire drivetrain, including the fuel cell stack, is packaged under the bonnet, thus enabling a five-seat cabin (the Mirai’s only a four-seater). This also allows for the easier development of other bodystyles on the same platform at a later date. Developments from the earlier FCX Clarity prototypes include a downsizing of the fuel cell stack, 33% smaller but showing a performance improvement of around 60%, achieving a power output of over 100kW and power density of up to 3.1kW/L. The FCV has a single high-pressure tank for hydrogen storage, and Honda promises a cruising range of over 700km (434 miles), again outdoing the 300-mile Toyota; refuelling takes around three minutes.