The world of Automobiles is full of stories of Iconic Models that stand out from rest of the models of their era. There have been cars like the Jaguar E-type and Motorcycles like the Ducati 916, the legend of whom will never die.
Even for an Industry with this much passion and historical events and models to talk about, one particular Honda products unveiling as recent as in the year 2009 stands alone on a level of significance which might just be impossible to be replicated by any other model launch in future.
Whenever History will look back at the 2009 Honda FCX Clarity, it will smile, because this was the car that had the technology which is Humanities biggest bet at reaching a cleaner and a greener future of Mobility. It was the first ever 'Fuel-Cell' powered vehicle which was delivered to a customer, and the world was never the same again.
The Honda FCX Clarity a car belonging to the Honda FCX family or the 'Fuel Cell eXperimental' Vehicles, is a hydrogen fuel cell powered car manufactured by Honda. The design is based on the 2006 Honda FCX Concept. The FCX Clarity in its technology filled resume has the brilliant achievement of demonstrating electric car qualities such as zero emissions while offering 5 minute refuelling times and long range in a full function large sedan. It first went on sale as a 2008 model year vehicle.
The Clarity was showcased in the middle of the ongoing global opposition of automobiles due to their petroleum based power units and dangerous toxic emissions. The world was up against the automobiles and the future of personal mobility looked dark as the dependence on Internal Combustion Engines was at the highest level, while the electric vehicle community was yet to deliver a product which could match the universal practicality and versatility of the good old oil burning two and four wheelers.
Since the vehicle's unveiling in November 2007, there were nearly 80,000 people around the world who expressed interest, according to Honda. Production was reported to begin in June 2008. The first five customers of the fuel cell vehicle were announced on June 19, 2008, and delivery of the first vehicle in the United States around July. It was introduced in Japan in November 2008.
In July 2014 Honda announced the end of production of the FCX Clarity for the 2015 model. The vehicle's electrical power comes from a 100 kW Honda Vertical Flow (V Flow) hydrogen fuel cell stack whereby electricity is supplied on demand. In common with many electric vehicles, the car has regenerative braking and uses a separate battery to store energy recovered during braking.
The electric motor is based on the motor in the EV Plus, rated at 134bhp and 256 Nm torque at 0-3056 rpm. The range on a full hydrogen tank is EPA certified at 386 km. The vehicle is estimated to give an efficiency of about 123.9 km per kilogram hydrogen in the city, 107.8 km per kilogram highway and 115.9 km per kilogram in combined driving.
Honda went all futuristic while keeping an eye on the practicality for daily usage, while designing the Clarity. The result was, a car which was about 4 inches shorter than a 2008 Honda Accord. It came with an innovative cockpit where the display in the dashboard had a dot that changed colour and size as hydrogen consumption grew, to make it easier for the driver to monitor their driving efficiency.
A separate display showed the battery power level and another showed motor output. A speedometer, placed above the cockpit display made it easier for the driver to keep eyes on the road. In the interior, upholstery on the seats and door linings are made with Honda's Bio-Fabric.
The FCX Clarity, uses a fuel cell to power its on-board electric motor. Fuel cells in vehicles create electricity to power an electric motor, generally using oxygen from the air and hydrogen. This technology makes it possible to rate the Honda FCX Clarity as a Zero Emission Vehicle.
The most important type of fuel cell are called - Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell design, it has a proton-conducting polymer membrane (the electrolyte) which separates the anode and cathode sides. On the anode side, hydrogen diffuses to the anode catalyst where it later dissociates into protons and electrons. The protons are conducted through the membrane to the cathode, but the electrons are forced to travel in an external circuit (supplying power) because the membrane is electrically insulating. On the cathode catalyst, oxygen molecules react with the electrons (which have travelled through the external circuit) and protons to form water.
Fuel cells come in a variety of sizes. Individual fuel cells produce relatively small electrical potentials, about 0.7 volts, so cells are "stacked", or placed in series, to increase the voltage and meet an application's requirements.
The way Fuel Cell Technology can be used for mobility solutions as well as for stationary power solutions, has given us a ray of hope and immense confidence that the future is indeed green and happy.
The Utter Significance of the Honda FCX Clarity in the history of Automobiles exist in the fact that it brought the world closer than ever to a sustainable power source technology that will change the way humanity lives. This technology will pave way to help us mend whatever we have broken in last 150 years of Industrial Revolution.
The info-graphic below explains how the Fuel Cell technology can be used to power a four wheeler.
The day is near when common cars and 2 - wheelers, and public road transport will have this technology, making the dream of a healthy, clean, green and a sustainable environment a reality.