Taking a chapter out of the Hyundai IONIQ playbook, Honda is broadening the appeal of its Clarity sedan by offering it in three eco-friendly flavors. It already has the Clarity Fuel Cell model on offer, and now it adds the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid and Clarity Electric. The new family will be a key component of a US electrified vehicle sales push.
We liked the idea of a single platform with multiple electrified powertrain options when Hyundai introduced the IONIQ lineup last year, and we had a feeling it might be something we'd see repeated by other automakers. Honda hopes that the new three-in-one strategy will help drive a fivefold sales expansion of US electrified vehicle sales over the next four years, part of a greater plan to convert two thirds of its global sales to electrified models by 2020. Specifically, it's targeting a US sales goal of 75,000 Clarity models over the first four model years.
"The Honda Clarity is aimed at accelerating the deployment of advanced electrified powertrain technology and bringing electrified vehicles further into the mainstream," says Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "The Clarity series also heralds the advancement of our Honda Electrification Initiative, representing our investment in the full spectrum of electric-vehicle technologies."
The 2018 Clarity Plug-In Hybrid relies on a 181-hp electric motor with 232 lb-ft of torque for driving power. Hooked to a 17-kWh battery pack, that motor will keep the car moving for up to 42 miles (68 km) on its own. When the battery drains, a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gas engine kicks in to generate electricity and keep the car motoring for an additional 288 miles (463 km), for a total estimated range of 330 miles (531 km). The gas engine is also tasked with powering the car directly under certain conditions.
The battery pack takes about 2.5 hours to charge from a 240-volt source, according to Honda's estimates. Drivers can manage battery power and ride with three primary driving modes: Normal, Econ and Sport. A secondary "HV mode" maintains the current state of battery charge and can be used in conjunction with any of the three primary modes.
Honda expects the Clarity Plug-In to get an EPA rating of 105 mpg-e (2.2 l/100km-e), which would slide it comfortably between the 103 mpg-e 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid and the 106 mpg-e 2017 Chevy Volt. It will offer the model in standard and touring trims and anticipates the versatile hybrid powertrain being the sales leader of the Clarity family.
The Clarity Electric drops the range-extending hybrid bits and commutes solely under power from a 161-hp electric motor with 221 lb-ft of torque. Power's stored in a larger 25.5-kWh battery pack with a charging time just over three hours, and drivers have the Normal, Econ and Sport driving mode options. Honda is aiming for 120/102/111 mpg-e EPA numbers. It will get the Electric to market later this year, beginning with lease programs in California and Oregon.
Each of the three five-seat Clarity models gets its own distinctive design treatment, which includes a hero color, differentiated lighting and front styling, and individual 18-in wheel designs. Available features include Display Audio with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and the full suite of Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistance technologies.
The Clarity lineup has taken its first family road trip, landing at the New York International Auto Show, which got underway today.