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