This week Honda was slated to unveil the production version of its long-touted hydrogen fuel cell sedan. Instead, it will be showing off an updated version of its FCEV concept, delaying the production model until March of 2016. That’s bad news for fans of hydrogen fuel and Honda, which lacks a zero-emissions placeholder for 2015.
With the Honda Fit EV out of production, and the Honda hydrogen fuel cell vehicle delayed another year, the automaker won’t be able to meet CARB’s zero emissions vehicle mandate. It also means competitors will be making further inroads with customers seeking an alternative to petrol. Who knows how many potential customers Honda could be losing by delaying their long-awaited hydrogen sedan?
The Honda FCX Clarity was one of the first hydrogen-fueled vehicles you could get your hands on, debuting in 2008 as a lease-only, limited-sale vehicle in SoCal. A recent partnership with SolarCity could bring hydrogen fuel production to your home garage, though that doesn’t do much good if there’s nothing to fuel up. While estimates placed the cost of the Clarity as high as $1 million in 2005 when it first debuted, some analysts say production costs are down to as little as $120,000. That’s still about four-times the cost of the average car in the U.S., and while Honda isn’t saying exactly why it’s delaying production for another year, it’s easy to narrow down the reasons why.
At the top of the list is cost; perhaps Honda isn’t ready to take a huge hit on the sale of each hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. By some estimates, every Toyota Mirai FCV sold could cost the company $100,000 or more. There are other factors as well that could be hindering production as well, like the lack of infrastructure anywhere outside of California. Honda might also be waiting for additional government incentives or funding for fueling station expansion. Honda says that the production version of its fuel sedan, rumored to be called the ACX and looking something like this, still makes in excess of 100 kW/134 horsepower, with a driving range of 300 miles and a refilling time of less than five minutes at one of the growing number of quick-fuel stations.
Regardless of the reason for the delay, instead of a production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle Honda has given us an updated concept. It’s hard to spin that as good news.