by Carlos Lago, Senior Writer, and Rex Tokeshi-Torres, Vehicle Testing Technician
We expected the lease period of our long-term 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell to come with some surprises. It delivered a good one last month. After getting our car back from the dealer for routine maintenance, we received a bill for $365.
by Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations
Where Did We Drive It?
Where we go in our 2017 Honda Clarity is still limited by the refueling network. There is a dense network of hydrogen stations near our Santa Monica offices and up to 40 miles south of us. Too far beyond that requires range-calculated planning. So we tend to keep the car in the hands of those living near headquarters.
Since our last update, we drove the Clarity over 1,700 miles and we learned a few things about the car. For one, don't count on all filling stations being open when you drive up. They are down for maintenance with some regularity. We also experienced a wiper failure and an oil change. But this car doesn't have any oil, you say. Read on for an explanation.
by Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor
We've added a 2017 Honda Clarity to our long-term test fleet. It's one of only a handful of hydrogen fuel cell cars on the market today. We spent six months last year with a Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedan and were pleasantly surprised by how normal it was in day-to-day driving.
Then again, maybe we shouldn't have been that surprised. Although we call them fuel cell cars, they're really nothing more than electric cars that get their power in a different manner. Rather than storing electricity in batteries, cars such as the Clarity have a fuel cell on board that converts hydrogen into electricity.
Honda claims the Clarity is better than Toyota's Mirai in every measurable way. It's the kind of thing you expect to hear given the rivalry between the two companies, but Honda and Toyota are also two companies that have bet big on the whole idea of hydrogen fuel cells. Other competitors have decided that battery-powered electric cars are the way to go. Tesla boss Elon Musk has even gone as far as calling hydrogen cars "fool cells."
It's an issue that will be debated for many years to come. At the moment, all we can do is test what's available now. We already own a Tesla Model X and a Chevrolet Bolt, so the Clarity seemed like a logical choice.
Note that we don't actually own this vehicle. Honda only lets you lease a Clarity, and only a handful of dealerships in California stock it. Not surprisingly, there weren't many available when we started our search. After getting on a few waiting lists, the Norm Reeves Honda Superstore in Irvine was the first dealer to find one for us. There's not much negotiating to do since it's a set lease price of $369 per month. We signed the paperwork, and a dealer rep delivered the Clarity to our office and gave us a tour of its features.