Recently a number of auto manufacturers have doubled their research and development into hydrogen power. Specifically, Toyota is doubling down on hydrogen power development announcing it believes there is more to solving carbon output levels than with EVs. So it is surprising that Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell, its most advanced and ambitious model, is being discontinued.
Nikkei reports that the factory where the Clarity Fuel Cell and Clarity Plug-In Hybrid are built in Sayama, Japan, is closing next March. Granted, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles aren’t blasting off of dealer lots. But a lot of that is due to the lack of infrastructure. Hydrogen fueling stations are mostly found in California. And some hydrogen-powered vehicles also limit sales to California.
Why did the Honda Clarity see so little sales?
That doesn’t make for universal adaptation nationwide. Inside EVs recently did an analysis and found that fewer than 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles were sold in the US in all of 2020. That was less than half of what was sold in 2019. On average, for the last nine years, about 1,000 fuel cell vehicles have been sold each year. In all of 2020, just 4,215 Clarity models of all varieties were sold. That was significantly down from the 11,654 Clarity variants sold in 2019.
Another reason for low sales is that the Clarity EV was only sold in California and Oregon. And the Fuel Cell Clarity was only available in California. The only Clarity model available elsewhere was the PHEV model. It was sold nationwide.
What Honda says about killing the Clarity
In a statement, Honda states, “We are evolving our strategy with a focus on the increased application of our two-motor hybrid system to core models in advance of the introduction of our first volume BEV models in 2024. Consistent with this strategy, Honda will conclude the production of the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and Clarity Fuel Cell in August 2021. This will ensure we have the Clarity Fuel Cell available for lease through 2022, and Honda will continue to support our Clarity customers in the marketplace.”
Besides the loss of the Clarity models, the Odyssey and Legend are also built at that plant. So those models will also be ending production in Japan. The Odyssey van in the US is made at Honda’s Alabama factory. So, at least for the short term, it will continue in production for the US.
The Clarity arrived on the scene in 2015 at the LA Auto Show. It went into production in 2017. Both the EV and PHEV models also became available in 2017.