Hyundai and Honda are slightly divergent of one another at this point with regards to fuel cell vehicles. Both were at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show to showcase their most recent offerings in this upcoming car segment, but whereas Hyundai announced it would release its new Tucson Fuel Cell to select markets next year, Honda had just its latest prototype to put on display.
Honda said it is aiming for a launch “anticipated” in the United States and Japan in 2015, followed by Europe. The Japanese automaker, though it has a self-claimed “leadership” in the fuel cell vehicle industry that it feels it established via the introduction of its first generation fuel-cell vehicle, the FCX, in 2002, it failed to beat rival Hyundai to actual mass production of a consumer ready vehicle. Whether or not this means much in the eyes of consumers remains to be seen, but from a historical perspective it is significant.
As for what it showed off in Los Angeles, the latest FCEV Concept “expresses a potential styling direction for Honda’s next-generation fuel-cell vehicle.” It has a modern look, according to Honda, featuring “sweeping character lines underscored by an ultra-aerodynamic body” and offering “ample passenger space and seating for 5-passengers thanks to new powertrain packaging efficiencies.”
In terms of technical specifications, Honda’s fuel cell efforts have advanced to the point that the vehicle’s fuel cell stack has
yielded more than 100kW of power output. The power density is now 3kW/L, an increase of 60 percent, with the stack size reduced 33-percent compared to the FCX Clarity. The next generation Honda FCEV is anticipated to deliver a driving range of more than 300 miles with a quick refueling time of about three minutes at a pressure of 70 MPa.
“The Honda FCEV Concept not only sets our direction for our next generation fuel-cell vehicle in 2015, but for future improvements in electric drive technology,” said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co, in a statement. “The advancements we are making are substantial, meaningful and very real.”