Following on from the Clarity, which was leased to a small number of California customers, Honda’s FCV Concept – first shown in Tokyo last year – made its North American debut at the 2015 Detroit show.

The latest concept shows off the exterior and interior styling evolution of Honda’s next zero emissions fuel-cell vehicle, which is due to be launched in Japan in March 2016, followed by the US and Europe.

The new model will feature a spacious cabin with seating for five passengers, a driving range estimated to be in excess of 300 miles, and an anticipated refuelling time of approximately three minutes at a pressure of 70 MPa. Its fuel cell stack, which fits entirely under the bonnet, is 33% smaller with a 60% increase in power density compared to that in the outgoing FCX Clarity.

The new concept features a low, wide aerodynamic body with clean character lines. The interior takes advantage of new powertrain packaging efficiencies delivering even greater passenger space than the four seat FCX Clarity. 

Honda announced at the recent Los Angeles show it would provide FirstElement Fuel, in the US, with US$13.8m in financial assistance to build additional hydrogen refuelling stations throughout California in an effort to support the wider introduction of fuel cell vehicles.

Honda has over a decade of form with FCVs. Its original FCX became the first EPA- and CARB-certified fuel-cell vehicle in July 2002, going on to become the world’s first production fuel-cell vehicle when it was introduced to the US and Japan in December 2002. In 2003 the FCX became the first fuel cell vehicle to start and operate in sub-freezing temperatures, and the first FCV to be leased to an individual customer, in 2005. Honda’s commitment to fuel cell development was further underlined in 2008 when it became the first manufacturer to build and produce a dedicated fuel cell vehicle on a production line specifically made for such vehicles and the first to create a dealer network for them.

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In California it has also cooperated with rival Toyota – which has its own well advanced FCV programme and a model in production – to share a hydrogen refuelling station handy to both automakers’ headquarter complexes in Torrance.

Hyundai is also entering the North American FCV market.