California, your Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is (almost) here

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Just in time for $2/gal gas, a $60,000 hydrogen Honda hits the streets

Honda said on Friday that its 2016 Clarity Fuel Cell will sticker for about $60,000 when it goes on sale before the end of this year; however, the company is targeting a monthly lease price of less than $500. That’s not cheap, we know, but figure you’ll but putting hydrogen in this thing instead of gasoline and it gets a lot more palatable. Or at least it would have, if gas prices hadn’t fallen through the floor recently.

Honda says it expects limited volumes in the early stages, and for now, it’s only on sale in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, including Sacramento.

The production Clarity has a fuel cell stack that’s 33 percent more compact than the one in the FCX concept and 60 percent more power dense. Honda says the new stack now fits under the hood, always a plus, and allows for more passenger space.

Range should exceed 300 miles, says Honda, and refueling time should be less than five minutes.

As for features, the Clarity will come with the Honda Sense safety stuff, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED lights and alloy wheels. This thing is starting to sound suspiciously like a regular car.

California is the natural starting point for the Clarity, considering it currently has the best hydrogen infrastructure. Honda partnered with H2USA, which brings together all of the hydrogen players including the government, as well as FirstElement Fuel, which helped accelerate the building of more hydrogen fuel stations. According to the Air Resources Board, there are 13 research hydrogen fueling stations in the Golden State, nine public stations and 18 more on the way.

On the other hand, business pub Venture Beat posted a story last year that reported many of the stations to be non-operational, while others had extra long lines. That’s something buyers will surely want to check into.

Regardless, as emission concerns force a shift away from petroleum products — something that’s going to happen wherever crude oil prices settle — the infrastructure for alternative fuels will get better. It’s hard to complain about a few minutes at a hydrogen station as opposed to 25 minutes to charge a battery — as long as that station is open and in working order.

Check out the California hydrogen station map here. See if you’re within striking distance.

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