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Honda's 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell will start at 'around $60,000'

Buyers of hydrogen fuel-cell cars will have a third option before the end of the year. As previously indicated by its maker, the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell will go on sale in certain parts of California later this year.

The Clarity will be priced “around $60,000,” Honda said in a statement released during the 2016 Washington, D.C. Auto Show. However, the company will only lease cars at first, at an estimated monthly rate of “under $500.” Both figures more or less match the $57,500 base price of the 2016 Toyota Mirai and the $499 monthly lease rate of both the Mirai and the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell.

Recapitulating statements made at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show back in November, Honda said the Clarity will initially be available only at certain dealers in Los Angeles and Orange counties, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. The restrictions are due to lack of fueling infrastructure elsewhere, and are standard operating procedure for car makers right now. Toyota only offers the Mirai at eight California dealers.

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Honda said it will expand availability of the Clarity beyond leasing, and make the car available in other parts of the Golden State as vehicle supplies and fueling stations become more readily available. It may offer the car outside California at some point in the future.

Unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, the Clarity Fuel Cell uses a new, more compact fuel-cell stack that allows all components to fit under the hood. Hydrogen-storage tanks located under the rear seat and between the rear wheels have enough capacity for 300 miles of range, according to Honda. When it goes on sale, the Clarity will feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus the Honda Sensing bundle of safety features.

The Clarity will also lend its platform to a dedicated plug-in hybrid model Honda plans to launch in 2018. Honda says this new model will have triple the 13-mile electric range of the defunct Accord Plug-In Hybrid, and will be sold in all 50 states in large volumes. Honda is planning a battery-electric car for 2018 as well; this third model may also use the Clarity platform.