Honda Motor Co. debuted a fuel cell vehicle Thursday that it hopes will secure wide take-up amid a national push for zero-emissions hydrogen technology.
The Clarity is a five-seater model, the first hydrogen-powered vehicle of that size.
Over the first year, Honda is targeting the lease of 200 units to firms, government agencies and local municipalities. During this period the company will gauge users’ reactions.
After 18 months, the car will become available to the public.
The vehicle is priced at ¥7.66 million, but the government is currently offering purchasers of such vehicles a ¥2 million subsidy.
Clarity units are equipped with fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks. They use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity to power the motor.
The engine’s only byproduct is water, although the manufacture of its hydrogen fuel produces greenhouse gases.
Honda President Takahiro Hachigo said while the automaker will also produce electric vehicles its focus will be on Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs), as fuel cell and hydrogen technology can be applied to a variety of cars.
Hachigo said Honda began developing fuel cell technology back in the 1980s and has leased several types of FCVs to date.
“We think we are a leading FCV company,” he added.
Honda said it will launch the Clarity in the U.S. and Europe this year, but gave no dates.
The world’s first commercial fuel cell vehicle is the Toyota Motor Corp. Mirai, which was launched in December 2014. That four-seater sedan runs about 650 kilometers on a full tank.
Honda said the five-seater Clarity can go about 750 km.
The government is pushing for what it dubs a “hydrogen society” and is promoting fuel cell vehicles.
If the environmentally friendly car is to spread, experts say the number of hydrogen fueling stations needs to increase. Currently, there are only around 80 such stations in the country, including those under construction.