2017 NYIAS: Honda Builds the Clarity Into a Family

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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2017 nyias honda builds the clarity into a family

Honda primarily uses the Clarity to prove its faith in the future of hydrogen-powered vehicles, but it doesn’t sell very many of the fuel-cell equipped cars — and those that are on the road are limited to the California coast. As one of the few hydrogen offerings in North America, the Clarity has broadened its role to encompass any form of alternative fueling. Wednesday at the 2017 New York Auto Show, Honda shed more light on the hydrogen-free EV variant of the Clarity, as well as its new plug-in hybrid.

That ought to boost Clarity sales to previously unfathomable levels. Honda is setting a U.S. target of 75,000 units over the first four years, a quadrupling of the company’s current electrified vehicle output. However, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to its EV sales goal of two-thirds of all light vehicle deliveries by 2030.

Honda claims the plug-in hybrid variant should be capable of 42 miles of electric-only driving range and a 330-mile extended range when combined with the 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder. The company wants to be clear that the Clarity plug-in is not an electric with a range-extending generator but a two-motor system that it hopes to roll out to the majority of its lineup in the years to come. While it didn’t name specific models, it indicated that dual-motor propulsion will become the new norm — stopping just shy of claiming that “the H in Honda now officially stands for hybrid.”

In the plug-in variant, electric propulsion comes from a 181-horsepower electric motor coupled to a 17 kilowatt-hour battery pack. Honda says it can achieve full recharge at a 240 volt plug in around 2.5 hours.

The setup sounds very similar to the Hyundai Ionic — a single model with three different options for electrification, and all for under $35,000 — although Honda hasn’t given any specific pricing yet. Both seem to be reaching for the same benchmarks and consumers. Honda even mentioned how the Clarity was implementing sustainable materials in the construction of its interior; that was a central theme in Hyundai’s presentation of the Ionic, too.

While Honda specifically said it wants to focus on hybrids, it is also offering the Clarity Electric as part of an effort to appeal to what it calls “EV purists.” The company estimates an 80-mile change, even with a passenger in all five of the seats. That’s not going to break any records, but it provides a usable range for the daily commute.

The pure EV is powered by 161 hp electric motor drawing from a 25.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack. Full recharge time at 240 volts will be just over 3 hours, but it also features faster DC charging, which can achieve an 80-percent charge in 30 minutes.

[Image: Honda]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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  • RHD RHD on Apr 14, 2017

    The pucker sides make it look like it's trying to hold it in until it can find a restroom. New Hondas (and so many others) are overstyled to beyond the point of ugliness. The shark just keeps getting jumped. Audi and VW would be good examples of clean, timeless styling (that's their strong suit). Hey, Honda, relax, keep it simple (to coin a phrase), and focus on your traditionally strong suits: engineering, quality, ergonomics, fuel economy and comfort.

  • Jacob_coulter Jacob_coulter on Apr 15, 2017

    Hydrogen is such a scam, around 90% of it is made from natural gas. I guess I can't blame car companies for taking advantage of stupid bureaucrats and their subsidies.

  • 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
  • El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
  • RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.