Hydrogen fueled cars are the wave of the future, or so it's claimed. To date there's only been one on the road, the Honda Clarity FCX. It looks impressive in pictures, larger than the best electric cars and virtually as big as the average sedan. Although it's not widely available, if you live in southern California small numbers of the Clarity are available for lease at $600 per month. That includes all service and maintenance, as well as collision insurance.
The Clarity ranks high on comfort, boding well for hydrogen fueled cars in the future. In part, this is due to the climate control that the engineers have put into the seats themselves, so there are no more sticky rides. The way the engine has been configured gives plenty of room in the cab for five passengers to sit comfortably. Even those in the rear aren't cramped on leg room. There's an above average amount of space for luggage.
The most obvious difference between this and a conventional car is the noise. There isn't any. The hydrogen engine is silent. It can seem disorienting at first, but a driver soon becomes used to it, and it makes driving a very comfortable experience.
Current hydrogen fueled cars achieve 60 miles to each kilogram of hydrogen. The performance is the same in city or on the highway. Although this is impressive, it's limited because the range is only 250 miles before the car has to be refilled. Reviewers were impressed by the miles per gallon achieved, but agreed that a network of hydrogen filling stations will be necessary before the vehicle can be commercially viable.
Performance was where the Clarity falls down in reviews. To go from 0 to 60 miles per hour takes 10 seconds, so the acceleration of hydrogen fueled vehicles isn't impressive. However, this isn't meant to be a high performance car. Its lines might be sleek but it's sedate.
The ratings are low for this aspect, which is understandable. Drivers need to have something in reserve to be able to drive out of dangerous situations, and these hydrogen fueled cars don't possess that. The steering is responsive, although reviewers found it necessary to make adjustments to become used to the braking, which can be sharper than on regular vehicles. That was a short learning curve, and very quickly mastered.
It has to be remembered that these are very early days for hydrogen fueled cars. What are available are almost extended prototypes. Reviewers liked the engine, ranking it highly, and enjoyed the comfort of the vehicle.
The only real letdown came in the performance, which left a great deal to be desired. It's inevitable that hydrogen fueled cars will be compared with conventional cars, since that's the measuring standard. It's also true, though, that they will improve as time passes. For now the verdict seems to be that this is a car purely for those interested in green issues, rather than the car enthusiast.