Why build a green car when you can start a whole family? We just watched Hyundai use that strategy with the IONIQ lineup of hybrids and electrics, and now Honda is following suit. It's already revealed the Clarity Fuel Cell, and it announced today that it will add a Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-In Hybrid in 2017. Honda is the first to offer these three powertrain options on a single model platform, giving green car shoppers a few new cars to consider.
Honda revealed the new Clarity Fuel Cell at last year's Tokyo Motor Show and began sales in Japan on March 10, delivering the very first one to the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry later that month. It plans to launch the model in select UK, Denmark and California markets later this year. The car's 174-hp motor is capable of pushing it up to around 466 miles (750 km) on the Japanese JC08 drive cycle (estimated 300-mile+ US EPA rating) per hydrogen fill-up thanks to its new power-dense fuel cell stack. Refueling takes three to five minutes, according to Honda.
While intriguing from a technological standpoint, fuel cell cars are still a young technology with lack of an accompanying hydrogen fueling infrastructure, so they're not exactly a large-volume cash cow for auto manufacturers. To give the Clarity more legs, Honda will launch the electric and plug-in hybrid versions in the US in 2017. The expansion will also give Honda more flexibility in responding to any changes in the market or infrastructure, the automaker explains.
"The Honda Clarity Series will provide customers with a well-equipped, premium, midsize vehicle with range of ultra low-carbon powertrain options to suit their lifestyle needs," says John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co's automobile division. "This Honda trio of dedicated, advanced technology vehicles, along with the expanded application of two- and three-motor hybrid systems to our core models, represents a strong commitment to Honda's future and will help create a new volume pillar for electrified vehicle sales."
Honda hasn't revealed many details about the electric or plug-in variants, but it does say that drivers can expect 40+ all-electric miles (64+ km) from the range-extending Plug-In Hybrid. That model will be the last to launch and will be offered in all 50 US states, taking the role of Clarity-series volume leader.
As for the Clarity Electric, Honda says only that the car will be the first "affordable, midsize, five-passenger battery electric vehicle (BEV) to offer premium content and features." The Clarity cars in general will have five-seat interiors and technologies like Display Audio with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and standard Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistive technology.
Now that the Clarity Electric and Plug-In Hybrid have been announced, it should only be a matter of time before we learn more. We'll report the details as they're announced.