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First US-spec Honda Clarity Fuel Cell headed for NY show with ADAS, Apple CarPlay

Honda's second-generation hydrogen-powered Clarity will be show in New York with new advanced driver-assist systems and infotainment features.

We've known that Honda's second-generation Clarity Fuel Cell sedan has been poised for North American distribution since last year, and the company has now confirmed that the first US-spec model will be shown at this week's New York Auto Show. Honda has also revealed that the car will feature a suite of advanced driving-assistance systems and a new infotainment interface that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It makes sense that the Japanese automaker's technological flagship will carry its latest Honda Sensing suite of safety tech, including lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, road-departure mitigation, and, of course, collision mitigation technology with auto-brake. That puts the Clarity well ahead of Washington's 2022 mandate for automated emergency braking agreed to by 20 automakers just last week.

In addition, the Clarity will receive a new 8-inch touchscreen Display Audio system incorporating the aforementioned CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The central screen will be the driver's main touchpoint for music, navigation, "energy monitor" and hydrogen fuel-station location functions.

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Honda's Clarity will be available in white, black and red.

Tim Stevens/CNET

While hard performance numbers remain tough to come by, Honda has confirmed it expects the Clarity's driving range to exceed 300 miles on the EPA cycle. Continued emphasis on the miniaturization of fuel cells now means the powerplant in the Clarity is roughly the size of a conventional V-6 engine -- 33 percent smaller than in the first-generation Clarity -- yet it's 60 percent more power dense. For comparison's sake, the original FCX featured a 130-horsepower electric powertrain and a 240-mile range.

Honda says it has targeted price of "around $60,000" and a lease rate of under $500 a month for the production Clarity, but don't expect nationwide availability. A number of concerns -- chiefly the nation's severely limited hydrogen fueling infrastructure -- will mean the model will be limited to "retail leasing to customers in select California markets before the end of 2016," Honda confirmed in a statement. To a large degree, the company's limited-availability strategy mimics that of Toyota's Mirai and Hyundai's Tucson fuel-cell vehicles.

After being the first automaker to offer a hybridized vehicle in North America with its original 2000 model-year Insight, Honda has largely struggled to find success with electrified vehicles, losing both sales and public mindshare battles with Toyota's Prius family.

The company appears undeterred, however. Its Clarity Fuel Cell will be "...the first in an expanding portfolio of advanced electrified vehicles from Honda that will create a new pillar in our product lineup," said John Mendel, American Honda's executive vice president, in a statement. Honda has also pledged that it will bring back an updated Accord Hybrid this spring, and it has plans to market a plug-in hybrid vehicle riding atop the Clarity's architecture by 2018. Finally, Honda is also planning to launch a battery electric vehicle to take on the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 by 2018.

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