Honda, GM strive to lower cost of fuel cells

Honda is beginning sales of the 7.66 million yen ($67,000) Clarity to local governments and businesses in Japan before offering the car to retail customers.Photo credit: Hans Greimel

TOKYO (Bloomberg) — Honda Motor Co., beginning sales of its Clarity Fuel Cell sedan in Japan, said joint work with General Motors will help bring hydrogen-powered vehicle costs down to the level of hybrids within the next decade.

The Japanese and U.S. automakers are studying joint production and procurement for fuel cell components with the aim of lowering costs to parity with hybrids by 2025, President Takahiro Hachigo said today in Tokyo. Honda said its Clarity sedan has the top driving range among zero-emission vehicles, at 466 miles, using Japan standards.

Honda is beginning sales of the 7.66 million yen ($67,000) Clarity to local governments and businesses in Japan before offering the car to retail customers. Honda, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. are championing fuel cell vehicles to eliminate tailpipe emissions while offering range and refueling times similar to internal-combustion engines. Their drawbacks include higher costs and the lack of hydrogen stations.

The starting price for Honda’s hybrid models in Japan range from 1.69 million yen ($15,000) for the Fit compact to 6.8 million yen ($60,000) for the Legend sedan, according to its website. As with Toyota’s Mirai, the Clarity’s hydrogen tank can be refueled in about three minutes. Honda projects selling 200 units in the model’s first year on sale in Japan.

Mirai cost

The Mirai starts at 7.24 million yen and is eligible for about 2.3 billion yen in tax cuts. As of last month, Toyota estimated a delivery date of 2019 or later for customers putting in an order for the sedan on its website.

Honda plans to start leasing the Clarity in California before the end of the year for less than $500 per month and will sell the car for about $60,000. Europe deliveries also are scheduled to begin by the end of 2016.

Another measure Honda will take to boost scale and lower costs is use the same platform that underpins the Clarity for a plug-in hybrid model due to hit the U.S. market by 2018. That vehicle will have about 40 miles of electric-driving range.

Hachigo has said Honda is also in talks with GM about the potential for extending their collaboration to electric vehicles, artificial intelligence or other technologies.


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