TOKYO: To compete with Toyota’s Mirai, Honda has unveiled its (Fuel Cell Vehicle) FCV Concept for 2016 that can travel 300 miles (or more than 480 km) on a single tank of hydrogen and be refuelled in under five minutes.
The production model (claiming approx. 130 hp) will comfortably seat up to five people and will be launched in Japan and North America first, with Europe to follow.
Honda had previously said the environmentally friendly car would go on sale in Japan and the United States in the 2015 calendar year. It now aims to introduce the car to Japan by the end of March 2016 and bring it to the US and Europe afterward.
Honda said earlier this fall that it would review all planned product launches because of a rash of recalls plaguing the hybrid version of its redesigned third-generation Fit small car.
Honda’s hydrogen entry is being previewed as rival Toyota Motor Corp. launches the production version of its own fuel cell car. Both Japanese automakers are turning to the water-emitting green car technology, instead of pure electric vehicles, as their long-term alternative to gasoline-powered transportation.
Honda aims to bring its car to market in Japan by March 2016 and then introduce it in the US and Europe. Toyota’s car goes on sale soon in Japan and in the US and Europe next summer.
Honda executives declined to give such details as a more specific launch window, price range or production volume. But Honda says its offering will be the world’s first fuel cell sedan to fit the entire powertrain under the hood, freeing space for five seats. Toyota’s car, the Mirai, seats only four.
Shimizu said new more compact fuel cell stack, combined with the motor, gear box and various control units and an air compressor, takes up the same space as a typical V6 engine.
The lack of a fueling infrastructure is seen as one hurdle to the widespread adoption of fuel cell vehicles. The cars are also very costly to build, making lofty sticker prices another issue. Honda says it has re-engineered its fuel cell stack to fit completely in the front engine compartment to save space.
Honda’s previous fuel cell car, the FCX Clarity, had the stack running partly down the centre tunnel of the car, relegating that slope-roofed sedan to a four-seat configuration. Shimizu predicted limited volume sales for Honda’s next fuel cell vehicle, but declined to offer a forecast. He said that more substantial volumes should be reached when the following generation car, the one planned with General Motors, arrives around 2020.