As part of the media contingent invited by Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd (HMSB) to the 2017 Tokyo Motorshow, we were also given a chance to sample a bit of future tech in the form of the new Clarity sedan, which comes in Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) and this, the first production Fuel-Cell (FCV) from Honda…
The drive took place at the Tochigi Prefecture, home to the famed Twin-Ring Motegi Circuit, which also doubles-up as Honda’s occasional Proving Ground, or for when they need to host a bunch of wayward overseas motoring journos for a drive in a safe environment.
But first before we get to that, here’s a visual refresher on what a fuel-cell is, and how it works…
What’s amazing is that the only by-product coming out the exhaust pipe is water vapour, and with a full tank of hydrogen, which takes about 3min to fill, the Clarity FCV is able to travel a distance of 750kms, depending on how light or heavy the driver’s right foot is.
Our stint in all three variants proved to be quite unexpectedly different, especially when it came to the Clarity FCV. Now, the Hybrid and PHEV variants of the Clarity pretty much act and feel exactly how you’d expect a hybrid car to, however, the FCV was a different matter…
First-off, think of it as a giant fusion-reactor straight out of Back to the Future and you’d not be far off the mark. It makes an astonishing sound not unlike a coffee-machine at Starbucks on its last ‘foam’ cycle when producing froth for your cappuccino.
The only difference is, this coffee-machine moves, and it moves pretty quick! But speed is not the main selling point here, although there is more than enough of that for sure.
No, the main selling point here is that this car offers freedom of mobility without the need for fossil-fuels and of course the cleanliness of it all. Remember, the only emission here is water vapour.
On the move the Clarity FCV is as quiet as an electric-car, and apart from the aforementioned muted ‘frothing’ sound coming from the engine bay, the only discernible noise intrusion is from the tyres making contact with tarmac.
There’s also an added benefit to having your own fusion-reactor at home – so to speak – in the form of your car; see that box connected to the Clarity FCV above? That’s a power-storage unit called the Honda Power Exporter that’s being charged up by the FCV (not the other way around)
With that unit alone, fully-charged, it can power your house for a week, should there be some catastrophic event like an earthquake or flood, that causes a total blackout in your neck of the woods. How cool is that?
But that aside, the one main benefit of the Clarity FCV (apart from fuel-costs savings) is the fact that it drives and behaves just like any other car on the road. There’s no need for a degree in astro-physics to operate it, in fact Honda engineers made sure that despite the space-age tech that goes into building this car, it’s as easy to operate as any other.
That’s the heart of it right up there. You’re looking at the first production fuel-cell ‘engine’. I reckon the only drawback right now is something that’s not entirely up to Honda, but more a collaboration between them and the powers-that-be who decide on infrastructure.
There are already charging ports for PHEV’s around the country (here too), but hydrogen-filling stations? That’s going to require a whole new agenda.
However, just in case we began to wonder if FCV-powered cars were dull, we were given a taxi-ride in that thing up there, Honda’s FCV powered racing car! Yeah, no kidding, it’s a full-on racing car that’s powered by Honda’s Fuel-Cell, and it’s unbelievably quick.
Off the mark, the power is instantaneous as expected, but what’s impressive is the fact that the power never lets up. It just keeps pulling like there is no rev-limit whatsoever, and thanks to the race slicks, is able to carry that power through the curves.
The professional race-driver at the wheel was just talking to us nonchalantly like he was taking a leisurely drive on a Sunday morning, while we in the car felt like death was upon us… more than once.
There’s a lot more to come from Honda and its FCV technology, but in the meantime, check out the Honda Clarity FCV in action!
Honda Clarity Drive @ Twin-Ring Motegi Photo Gallery…