The Honda Clarity can thank its predecessors. Modern-day alternative fuel vehicles arrived in the United States in 1999 with the debut of the Honda Insight, a hybrid-electric that resembled a horizontally positioned peanut on wheels. The Toyota Prius arrived a few months later and remains the dominant leader in the segment with its family of “green” vehicles.

Several manufacturers continue their quests to infiltrate the market, most notably Honda. It debuted the Honda Civic GX (later called the Civic CNG), its compressed natural gas sedan, in limited markets, in 1998. It was eventually available to consumers throughout the country, but production stopped with 2015 model.

The 2017 and 2018 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell are available for lease in California.
The 2017 and 2018 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell are available for lease in California. The car runs on hydrogen and is rated woth a 366-mile range. Image © James Raia/2018

More innovative is the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, one of the three Clarity models available. It operates only on hydrogen, the emissions of which are water. The manufacturer unveiled its hydrogen car for the second time in late 2016 but only in Southern California.

The 2017 model and the just-released 2018 model are available for a three-year leases in California, via 12 dealerships. The MSRP is $58,490. The monthly lease is $369 with a 20,000 per-year mileage allowance. The signing cost is 2,868. A 21-day rental policy from Avis is also included. But the key incentives are the $5,000 via the  state’s clean vehicle rebate project. A California Clear Air Sticker for single occupancy driving in High Occupancy Vehicle lanes is also available.

I drove a 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell throughout the recent Amgen Tour of California bicycle race. The round trip from Sacramento to Long Beach covered about 900 miles.

My colleague Bruce Aldrich interviews me about my experiences driving the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell in Episode 38 of The Weekly Driver Podcast.

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