Toyota officially introduced us to their production-ready Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle this weekend, and they set an official ETA for mid-2015. At the same time, Honda has assured us that they aren’t too far behind by showing us the newest iteration of their future fuel-cell offering. This is the new Honda FCV Concept:
Although Honda can’t hope to match Toyota’s mid-2015 launch date, they have promised to launch their own fuel-cell vehicle by March 2016 in Japan, followed by a US and European launch later that year.
As we said, this is the newest iteration of their fuel-cell concepts, which of course means that it’s not the first version we’ve seen. The original FCEV Concept was shown at last year’s LA Motor Show, pictured below. The FCEV Concept was in-turn a successor to the original 2002 Honda FCX Clarity sedan, which we’ll talk more about below.
Even though there’s no denying that the new FCV Concept showcases some very aggressive styling, you can see that it’s actually been toned down quite a bit since the 2013 FCEV Concept. The new white line extending back from the A-pillar gives the car a distinct sense of boundary, and the removal of the rear wheel covers makes the car look a lot more realistic.
That being said, Honda tells us that the most noticeable changes from the FCX Clarity to today’s FCV Concept can be felt on the inside. They’ve successfully confined the newly developed powertrain to the normal front-end engine compartment, which means that there’s over 33% more room left for a spacious interior cabin. All that extra space will allow the Honda FCV to be a true five-seat sedan when it finally goes on sale in 2016.
Of course, Honda has to beat Toyota somewhere, so their press release specifically claims that their FCV will be able to drive more than 300 miles on a single tank (300 miles is the Toyota Mirai’s claimed driving range), although Honda doesn’t specify exactly how far their car will go. Honestly, it’s probably one of those, “Let’s make a promise now, figure it out later,” kind of situations; driving range will likely end up being 310 miles instead of 300.
As if to make up for the fact that their FCV will launch second to the Mirai, Honda made sure to remind customers that they’ve had a hand in hydrogen fuel-cell development from the start. In 2002, they opened the doors for an FCX leasing program, and they’ve also made individual sales to several consumers in the US for the sake of real-world testing and valuable feedback. So, even though the Mirai will be the first HFCV you’ll be able to buy in a conventional dealership, it won’t be the first FCV retail customers have ever had access to. You got us there, Honda – well played. (They fail to mention that Toyota partnered with them to create that leasing program, but we won’t nit-pick)
In all seriousness, whatever rivalry lies between Honda and Toyota, the truth is that both of their hydrogen-powered vehicles will have an equal impact on the industry, and they both have each other to thank for the progress they’ve made thus far. Both automakers have been openly collaborating with the Japanese government since the beginning of this year to ensure that Japan remains at the forefront of hydrogen technology development for at least the next two or three decades. In fact, the three parties have together pledged to get the entry-point for commercial HFCVs down to $20,000 within a decade.
If you’d like to learn more about the new Honda FCV Concept, you can get Honda’s official press release here.