The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Remarks from the 2015 LA Auto Show Honda Design Studio Press Conference +VIDEO

honda clarity fuel cell
Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

November 17, 2015: The Advanced Design Studio of Honda R&D Americas

Jason Wilbur – Design Manager, Advanced Design Studio of Honda R&D Americas

"Good afternoon, everyone. I'd like to welcome you all to the Advanced Design Studio of Honda R&D Americas. My name is Jason Wilbur and I am the Design Manager here.

The purpose of our Advanced Design Studio is not simply to create new product concepts, although we do that, but to help establish brand direction that is many generations away. 
This location in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, with its very progressive and high-energy fashion, arts and cultural scene, is a great place for designers to be able to think about the challenge of future design.
Our studio is playing a lead role within Honda R&D's global advanced design activity to help imagine the products of tomorrow and to create more expressive design that will influence our future products for both the Acura and Honda brands.
Today, we are proud to host the debut of two Honda vehicles on opposite ends of the spectrum, the hot new Civic Coupe, and the zero emission Clarity Fuel Cell."

"To lead us into these introductions, it is my pleasure to welcome the head of public relations for American Honda, Sage Marie."

Sage Marie – Senior Manager, Public Relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.:

"Thanks, Jason, and hello everyone. We really appreciate you taking the time to be with us for an early look at the two all-new vehicles we'll be showcasing at the LA Auto Show. It's a great way for us to close out what we began about 11 months ago, as the “Year of Honda.” I also want to thank our friends at Honda R&D for hosting us here today. 
We've had a great 2015 due in no small part to the incredible cadence of great new products they've brought us this year. And we aren't letting up. Next year is shaping to be the “Year of Honda” 2.0, as we'll continue a super aggressive schedule of new product introductions.
In addition to the continued fortification of our light truck lineup and the rollout of the 10th generation Civic, today we begin the introduction of an entire new generation of advanced technology vehicles. This starts with the Clarity Fuel Cell that debuted last month at the Tokyo Motor Show.
While it is too early to provide specific details of these future products, this new generation of advanced, electrified Honda vehicles, the Clarity Fuel Cell and plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles will work together to create a new volume sales pillar by meeting a variety of customer needs for mobility.
In the meantime, the rest of our line-up will continue to target best-in-class fuel economy for our customers with every new product offering. These products are driving our success as we close in on an all-time record sales year for American Honda and for the Honda brand. And as always, we're getting it done one customer and one car at a time, not through fleet. 
Based on the latest retail sales data, we're now on track to post a third consecutive year of segment sales leadership for Accord, Civic, CR-V and Odyssey. We expect CR-V to again be the outright best-selling SUV in America for the 4th consecutive year. That means a Honda product holds the top retail spot in three of the four major market segments: car, SUV and minivan.
As you know, the new Civic Sedan went on sale last week. Over the next 18 months or so, we will be rolling out the rest of the new Civic lineup, including the new Coupe we have for you today, followed by our first ever 5-door Civic hatch, new Si variants and, finally, a radical new Civic Type-R. In short, the sportiest and most comprehensive Civic lineup in our history.
So, we kicked off the Civic launch last spring at the New York Auto Show with the debut of the Civic Concept.  Today, we're going to share the production version with you.  
And here to tell you all about it is the North American Development Leader of the 10th-gen Civic Coupe, John Hwang, and the U.S. design lead for the Coupe,
Guy Melville Brown.

John Hwang – North American Development Leader, 2016 Civic Coupe

Guy Melville Brown – U.S. Exterior Design Leader, 2016 Civic Coupe:

Thanks, Sage, and hello everyone!
Good afternoon, everyone!
It's a real honor to be with you today representing our global team of engineers and designers who worked on this project.
The foundations for this all-new Civic Coupe, the platform, and the underpinnings are shared with the rest of the 10th generation Civic lineup, and just like the sedan, the design effort for the coupe began in Japan. 
Working together, our global design and development team really hit the reset button by targeting a new level of design, performance and quality. These efforts are obvious in the new Civic coupe, in its sporty handling, ride refinement, cabin quietness, top-class fuel economy and safety.
Right, Guy. For the Coupe development, we started with the same fundamental platform components, the sophisticated new chassis, the upsized wheels as standard and new multi-link rear suspension, as well as the more rigid yet lightweight body, and premium technologies like hydraulic compliance bushings and variable ratio electric power steering. 
We also targeted the very same high-level body sealing and sound deadening. With features like an acoustic glass windshields, triple-sealed doors, and full underbody covers, which aid both aero and NVH.
And like the Sedan, we will have two all-new powertrains, a 2-liter i-VTEC and the new 1.5-liter direct-injected turbo, our first ever turbocharged coupe! These new powertrains make this an incredibly powerful Civic Coupe, yet with EPA fuel economy ratings expected to be at top of the class.
So, Guy, we should probably show the car already, right?
Right, John, let's do this.  Ladies and gentlemen, the all-new 2016 Civic Coupe!
[2016 Civic Coupe Reveal] 
So, here she is, and as you can see, we have been able to maintain all of the core DNA from the Concept model we showed in New York. The gestures, the characteristics and the emotions the car evokes remain unchanged. Well maybe it's a little less green.
You see we took the philosophy of the sedan, and we cranked up the volume. Everything had to get a little louder. The car had to be more charismatic, sporty, and more ambitious, and that's where we set the bar with this new Civic Coupe. More than anything, we wanted the new Civic Coupe to clearly communicate the fun and excitement that this car will deliver. 
Our starting point was the new Civic platform with its more athletic and premium-looking 'wheels out' stance, its longer hood, longer wheelbase, lower hip point, lower roofline, wider body and wheel track, and shortened front overhang.  
From the A pillars forward, we're essentially carrying forward the 10th-gen Civic family design. From the A-pillars back, things start to look different.
That's right John. You see we've lowered the roofline even further, reducing its height by nearly a whole inch compared to the sedan. 
The faster rear silhouette really leads your eye down to our iconic signature taillight graphics. These help to emphasize the low and wide stance and make this new Civic Coupe instantly recognizable day or night.
We also pushed the side glass in around the rear passengers to create a more sporty and more personal interior. In doing so, we were able to accentuate the rear fenders really putting emphasis on the wheels, giving the car this strong menacing stance. 
The other big differentiator for the Coupe is that we're taken five-and-a-half inches out of the rear overhang, which really helps amplify the stance, and gives you the feeling that the wheels have been pulled to the corners of the vehicle.
The lower roofline, shorter rear overhang and taillight graphic really define this new Coupe styling, but you are probably wondering what this means for interior space. 
Well, here again, we're leveraging the fundamental goodness of this new Civic platform and Honda's packaging prowess to deliver a more sporty and spacious package.
Front legroom and both front and rear headroom are actually up slightly from the 9th-gen model. 
Passenger space in the main cabin is up more than 8 cubic-feet, and rear-seat passengers get an additional 5.5 inches of legroom.
Trunk space is virtually unchanged and we're providing 60/40-split seats on all trims to optimize people and cargo hauling flexibility.
Inside, we've got a unique black interior treatment with contrasting grey or beige highlights.
And like the Sedan, we're liberally applying soft-touch surfaces and high-grade finishes.
For this model , an EX-L, that means leather seats, door inserts, steering wheel wrap and shift knob, a stitched leather center armrest, and LED shift indicator and ambient interior lighting.
And the nerve center for a new level of Coupe infotainment capabilities is an all-new Display Audio touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a first in the compact coupe class, and a whole lot more.
More sporty and spacious, fun and fuel-efficient, clean and connected, this is an incredibly dynamic new Coupe. All in all, this is the sportiest, most sophisticated and tech-savvy Civic Coupe we've ever made, and we're really thrilled to share it with you here today.
Of course, there is still more to our Coupe story and we will be available for any questions in a few minutes. 
But first, I'll ask Ryan Harty of the American Honda Environmental Business Development Office to take over for the North American debut of another new Honda vehicle.

Ryan Harty – Manager, Environmental Business Development Office, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.:

Thanks, John, it's great to be here at the Advanced Design Studio. 
I actually began my career with Honda in R&D, where my work included efforts to improve the practical limitations of zero emission vehicle, .including improving the cost and degradation of lithium ion batteries and the more rapid refueling and durability of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. 
I moved to American Honda four years ago with the establishment of the Environmental Business Development Office, which is responsible for advancing Honda green business activities, including the marketing of alternative-fuel products like the Clarity that we're showing here today. 
I am joined today by Kiyoshi Shimizu, chief engineer for development of the new Clarity Fuel Cell. He will provide some technical details in just a moment. 
But first, I wanted to provide some perspective on what has led to this new model.
Developing products that meet the recognized environmental concerns caused by transportation has always been important to Honda. It starts with our deeply held belief that future mobility will include a large role for electrified vehicles, and that a future with hydrogen and hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars offer the best long-term solution to both the needs of our customers and the needs of society.
The new Clarity Fuel Cell is a clear reflection of our belief in the bright future for fuel cell technology and its critical role in realizing an ultra-low carbon mobility future. 
In this future, our massive energy needs for transportation and for electricity will be supplied primarily from renewable resources and zero-carbon sources. And hydrogen enables this future by its superior capacity to store and distribute huge quantities of energy, to take that energy from where and when it's generated to where and when it's needed, quickly and efficiently. No other energy carrier can match the versatility of hydrogen in this regard. 
At the same time, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like this new Clarity offer performance and utility that suits the needs and expectations of mainstream car buyers, most critically driving range and refueling times. 
Moreover, in the long term, we expect that mass production of fuel cell vehicles will result in vehicle costs that are similar to what consumers are accustomed to today.
Now, clearly this is a long term and not a short-term effort, and I understand people's skepticism. This kind of paradigm shift is not going to happen overnight. Creating a widespread hydrogen refueling network is difficult and takes time. Roads, sewers, water, railways, the electric grid, all took decades, with massive investments, but they were worth the costs. The state of California has committed $20 million a year.
Again, these kinds of paradigm shifts are daunting to consider, and they require a higher level of thinking and planning on the part of all stakeholders, automakers like ourselves, energy producers, and government agencies to name a few. But we believe that meeting society's CO2 reduction goals is well worth the time and the cost, and further, we believe that a high penetration of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is a key enabler of that ultra-low carbon future.
And this new Clarity is a bold step toward that future.
Honda has been working to advance fuel cell technology for more than two decades. And we have consistently led the industry in overcoming barriers to mass marketability, including cost, range, cold-weather performance and more. And our efforts to advance this ultra-low carbon future are not limited to the vehicle technology.
We're working to address all aspects of this challenge, energy production, energy distribution and energy consumption, in the car and in homes and business. It's why we have pursued Smart Home projects in Japan and in Davis, California, which explore new concepts for low-carbon living and mobility. And it's why we continue to invest in our partnership with SolarCity, to expand the use of solar energy by homes and businesses across the country, including within our own. And it's why we are supporting efforts by companies like First Element to expand the hydrogen refueling network in California.
Of course, our first and most important effort is the vehicle technology. And this Clarity Fuel Cell represents a major step forward in a premium D-Segment vehicle. 
With the Clarity, we are taking the fundamental advantages of hydrogen fuel cell technology and advancing them with respect to compact packaging, cost, range, and efficiency. 
Now I'll ask Mr. Shimizu to share some further detail on the new Clarity. Shimizu-san is actually my former boss when I worked at Honda R&D. In fact, all seven of the patents that I hold are a result of his urging me to apply for them. So, a public note of thanks, and please join me in welcoming Mr. Shimizu.

Kiyoshi Shimizu – Clarity Fuel Cell Development Leader, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.:

Thank you, Ryan. I am happy to share some key details about this new Clarity Fuel Cell. As Ryan explained, I worked at our LA R&D Center for four and half years. 
This experience in global design and development was very important in my work as the development leader of a new global model like the Clarity Fuel Cell.
Our effort to advance Honda fuel cell technology is based on our strong belief in what this technology can do for people and for society. For this new Clarity, our challenge was to create new value with a more powerful, efficient and compact fuel cell powertrain. 
The new Honda fuel cell stack in Clarity is smaller by one-third with a 60-percent increase in power density compared to the FCX Clarity stack.  Output per cell was increased 1.5 times and the number of cells was reduced by 30 percent. The thinning, cooling cell structure was further advanced to create cells that only measure 1 millimeter, reducing the total thickness of the cells by 20 percent.
The overall size is similar to a modern V-6 engine, and this allowed us to package the entire system under the hood of the car, opening up more space inside the car for people. As a result, the Clarity is the first fuel cell sedan to offer seating for five passengers.
We also wanted to deliver new value with the styling, interior and the driving experience. We pursued an advanced body design with clean lines and a highly aerodynamic shape.
Inside, we applied high-quality materials in an advanced and harmonious style. And we provide comfortable seating for five and a large trunk.
In terms of performance, we will offer a driving range of more than 300 miles, with the capability of refueling in about 3 minutes. 
And we provide two driving modes, Normal, which gives a good balance of fuel economy and performance, and Sport, which emphasizes responsive acceleration. 
Like other electric vehicles, we deliver immediate torque and acceleration response, which we think is very appealing to a new generation of customers.
We've worked very hard to advance this technology for our customers and to make it more appealing for a larger number of people. 
And Ryan will share some details of the U.S. marketing plans. 
Thank you!
Ryan Harty
Thank you, Shimizu-san, we really appreciate the hard work of your team to create this new Clarity Fuel Cell, the latest expression of Honda's continued environmental vision.
Some of you might be wondering about our continued commitment to battery electric and plug-in electric vehicles within this vision.
So, I want to reaffirm that this new fuel cell sedan is one part of an expanding portfolio of low-emissions, electrified products that we will be rolling out in the years ahead, including new hybrids, plug in hybrids, and battery electric vehicles. 
In fact, today I am pleased to announce that the Clarity Fuel Cell will serve as the first vehicle launched from a new platform that will be followed by an all-new Honda Plug-In Hybrid electric vehicle that we plan to launch nationwide by 2018.
This new Honda Plug-In Hybrid will feature our next-gen two-motor hybrid system, which will offer significant improvements in battery capacity and power, more than tripling the all-electric range of the Accord plug-in, which stands at around 13 miles today. This electric range will enable a zero emissions commute for the average American with significant range-extended capabilities enabled by an efficient gasoline engine. The increase in power will enable EV operation at highway speeds.
Based in part on the advanced capabilities of this two-motor system, along with increased supplies of vehicles and batteries, we expect significantly increased volumes for both our hybrid and plug-in models in the years ahead.
We'll be talking more about these vehicles in the future.  But I want to conclude with some other important information about the Clarity Fuel Cell that I know you are interested in. 
We will begin marketing the new Clarity Fuel Cell to our customers here in the U.S. next year.  To ensure a seamless, positive experience for our early customers, the sales ramp up will be gradual over a roughly four-year period, as the network of refueling stations and our dealer network matures. 
And this will start with our customers in California, centered around a growing refueling network in Los Angeles, Orange County and the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento. Eventually, we will expand the scope of our marketing to additional California markets and other states, including the Northeast.
As we announced at the Tokyo Motor Show, sales begin in Japan in March of next year.  We will have additional details about our pricing, volume and on-sale timing in the U.S. closer to our launch later next year. 
But you can expect that pricing here in the U.S. will be competitive with others in the segment. 
We are excited about this new fuel cell vehicle, and truly believe that the Clarity Fuel Cell is an important milestone for alternative fuel vehicles.
Now, I will turn it back to Sage for a few closing words. 

Sage Marie

Thanks, Ryan.  Well, we have shared two exciting models with you today – products at different ends of the spectrum.
But both the Civic Coupe and the Clarity Fuel Cell demonstrate how we are committed to delivering new products that define their segments and provide our customers with class-leading fuel efficiency, advanced safety, fun-to-drive performance and leading-edge connectivity. Clean, Safe, Fun and Connected.
We really appreciate your time and your attention this afternoon, and we look forward to sharing even more great product news with you in the weeks and months ahead.
Thanks, everyone!