Honda FCEV Concept hints at 2015 production fuelcell model

Honda FCEV Concept hints at 2015 production fuel-cell model.

Honda Fuel-Cell Concept, Refreshed Civic Unwrapped in Los Angeles

Honda says a world-first placement of the powertrain entirely in the engine compartment of the vehicle, rather than under cabin, makes possible greater applications of fuel-cell technology.

Honda increases the power density of its hydrogen fuel-cell stack 60% as it unveils its 5-passenger FCEV Concept car today at the 2013 Los Angeles auto show.

The FCEV (fuel-cell electric-vehicle) Concept hints at a possible direction for the Japanese automaker’s next-generation production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle due in 2015.

“While this car is a concept, it points toward a very real future,” Tetsuo Iwamura, president and CEO-American Honda, says in a statement.

Honda thus far is the only manufacturer to make an HFCV available to consumers in the U.S., in the form of the lease-only FCX Clarity released in 2008 in California.

While the density of the fuel-cell stack now is 3 kW/L, up from roughly 1.85 kw/L in the Clarity, overall output is pegged at a vague “more than 100 kW (134 hp).” The Clarity has an output of exactly 100 kW.

The new Honda fuel-cell stack is 33% smaller than the stack in the Clarity, and the range of the concept car is more than 300 miles (483 km), up from 240 miles (386 km) in the Clarity and on par with the range of newer HFCVs from Hyundai and Toyota.

Honda says a world-first placement of the powertrain entirely in the engine room of the vehicle, rather than under the cabin, making it possible to use fuel-cell technology in a variety of vehicle types.

Honda claims a refueling time of three minutes is possible for the FCEV, at 10,153 psi (70 MPa).

In material released ahead of the L.A. show, Honda does not detail the expected lease price of its next production HFCV, or whether it will allow people outside California to buy the car.

Honda leases the FCX Clarity to consumers it vets for $600 per month for 36 months.

WardsAuto data shows Honda has leased 46 FCX Clarity models since 2008, with six leased from January through October of this year.

Honda also uses the L.A. stage to detail changes to its Civic compact sedan and coupe for ’14.

Despite refreshing the car for ’13 after releasing an all-new model in ’12, Honda is making more updates, some significant, as it strives to keep the car atop its segment.

Through October, the Civic is the No.1-selling compact in the U.S., with 280,889 delivered, WardsAuto data shows.

“This 2014 Civic is our best offering yet, and makes Civic not just the best-selling, but once again the outright best pick in the compact class,” John Mendel, executive vice president-American Honda, says in a statement.

The biggest change comes under the hood, with the switch from a 5-speed automatic to a continuously variable transmission in all coupe and sedan models barring the Civic Natural Gas and Civic Hybrid, the latter already boasting a CVT.

The transmission swap should make for quicker and smoother acceleration, Honda says, and raises combined fuel economy 1 mpg (2.4 km/L) to 33 mpg (7.1 L/100 km).

Another major update is the availability of a bigger, 7-in. (178-mm) touchscreen in models with Display Audio, standard on Civic Si and EX-L coupes and sedans with navigation. Civic Natural Gas models come standard with Display Audio, as does the Civic Hybrid with navigation.

Civic Si coupes and sedans get performance updates for ’14 that include new dampers and a stiffer rear stabilizer bar; 18-in. wheels and tires; and a retuned exhaust, which boosts horsepower to 205 from 201 and torque to 174 lb.-ft. (236 Nm) from 170 lb.-ft. (230 Nm).

The non-Si Civic Coupe also gets similar suspension and exhaust updates. The 2-door Civic’s horsepower and torque ratings climb from 140 hp to 143 hp and from 128 lb.-ft. (174 Nm) to 129 lb.-ft. (175 Nm).

Styling changes to the coupes for ’14 include revised grille, fender and headlight designs. The interior of the car receives new seat fabric and door-panel trim.

The ’14 Civic sedan and coupe hit U.S. Honda dealers Dec. 4, while the Civic Hybrid and Natural Gas models arrive in early 2014.

Civic Si coupes and sedans won’t be available until spring.

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