It looks like early adopters of the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle are being hit with a recall for a repair that can take up to two weeks.
It looks like the Honda Clarity FCV is still going through some growing pains to say the least despite this being its sophomore generation. As per a handful of Honda Clarity FCV owners on the unofficial owners group earlier today (Jan. 17,2018) several early adopters are getting hit with a recall notice for a repair that takes their Clarities out for two weeks due to what Honda is calling a “Fuel Cell Stack Deterioration.” Check out an example of what that recall notice from Honda looks like below.
This is unofficial information but those within the owners group are saying this only affects the first 1,000 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicles leased out and/or made for production.
To clear things up, two weeks was quoted not because the swap takes so long but because fuel cell units aren’t exactly readily available and presumably are very expensive to produce.
Earlier last month, I reported on how 1,0000 Honda Clarity FCVs were recalled for a minor ECU malfunction that could cause the Clarity to misinterpret a minor voltage variance and erroneously shut down the FC stack in response. I have to wonder if these two recalls are related. That recall repair involved what amounted to, at worst, a new ECU. This recall, however, is probably one of the largest recalls for the Clarity FCV as a Fuel Cell Stack replacement is no short order.
A fuel cell stack replacement is roughly analogous to an electric car getting its full tray of electric batteries swapped out or a regular gas vehicle getting everything responsible for combustion swapped out (a major engine overhaul.)
According to Setra.com, “Although fuel cells and batteries are both considered electrochemical cells and consist of similar structure, fuel cells require a continuous source of fuel and oxygen to run; similar to how an internal combustion engine needs a continuous flow of gasoline or diesel.”
The reaction at which electricity is produced is what this German research paper calls, “very aggressive conditions.” I’m not going to pretend I know exactly what happens to make the electricity but suffice to say, getting the right amount of hydrogen gas through the fuel cell’s membrane in the right amounts is critical to the durability of a fuel cell vehicle for the consumer market. Getting it wrong in the slightest produces byproducts that can accelerate Fuel Cell degradation.
Perhaps Honda worked out the bugs after the first thousand units and left these early FC stacks installed as a proof of concept of sorts but it looks like sensors within these fuel stacks are reporting a “degradation.” Without a fuel cell, there’s no electricity to power these FC Clarities.
I have yet to see an official recall notice on NHTSA.gov but surely one will pop up within the week.
Source: Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Owners