Honda has rounded out its self-described “triple-play” in the alternative vehicle segment by complementing the recently introduced 2017 Clarity fuel cell vehicle with the 2017 Honda Clarity EV and the 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, both which were unveiled at the New York Auto Show. The company is counting on the Clarity lineup help lift electrified-vehicle sales fivefold over the next four years.

“The Honda Clarity is aimed at accelerating the deployment of advanced electrified powertrain technology and bringing electrified vehicles further into the mainstream,” said Jeff Conrad, senior vice president of American Honda. “The Clarity also heralds the advancement of our Honda Electrification Initiative, representing our investment in the full spectrum of electric vehicle technologies.”

Honda says the Clarity lineup is the industry’s first to offer customers a complete line of electrified vehicles that includes a fuel cell, EV and Plug-in Hybrid. Hyundai has begun to roll out its electrified compact Ioniq series that includes a conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and dedicated EV.

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3-in-1 platform strategy

The Clarity allows Honda to invest in a single platform carrying three different approaches to electrification and enables the company to adjust its product mix to adapt to market developments. One of the biggest criticisms of the hydrogen-fueled fuel cell Clarity is the lack of infrastructure, but the three-vehicle approach provides economies of scale to produce the fuel cell in limited numbers. As more hydrogen refueling stations come on line, Honda then can ramp up production of that variant.

While all three vehicles share the same underpinnings and basic body shape, Honda is also able to differentiate the models using individual styling cues including specific grilles, wheel designs and even offering a particular “hero” color for each. The basic package is similar to a mid-size 5-passenger sedan and incorporates such features as premium audio systems, advanced driver assists and state-of-the-art connectivity including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2017 Honda Clarity Electric

The electric member of the Clarity lineup is powered by a 161-horsepower (120-kilowatt) electric motor which makes 221 lb-ft of torque and is powered by a 25.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Unlike the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, which promises a range of over 200 miles, the initial Clarity will have a range of only 80 miles. While the range is limited, the Clarity opts for a larger cabin and a smaller, lighter weight battery pack to allow for quicker recharging. Honda says the vehicle can be fully recharged in just over three hours using a Level II 240-volt recharging system. DC fast charging is said to be able to give the car an 80-percent charge in just 30 minutes.

The Clarity Electric features three drive modes, Normal, Econ and Sport and it carries an EPA economy rating of 120 MPGe (miles per gallon, electric equivalent) city, 102 highway for a combined MPGe of 111. The Clarity Electric is expected to launch later this year, offered on a lease program available to customers in California and Oregon.

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2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

Also hitting the market later this year, the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will be sold at dealerships nationwide. It’s expected to be the volume leader of the three-car range. Output on the Clarity Plug-in is rated at 181 horsepower from an electric motor that also makes 232 lb-ft of torque. The motor draws power from a 17 kWh battery pack good for a pure electric range of 42 miles and that array can be recharged in 2.5 hours using 240 volts. A 1.5-liter gas engine acts as a generator to power the electric motor or can drive the vehicle directly. This standard hybrid mode combined with the pure electric capability gives the Clarity a total driving range of 330 miles.

The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is expected to earn an EPA fuel economy ranging of 105 MPGe. Like the Clarity Electric, the Plug-in Hybrid offers three driving modes, Normal, Econ and Sport along with a fourth mode HV, which maintains the battery’s state of charge. That setting is used for instance if you’re commuting into work and want to save the electric charge for pure EV operation while in an urban environment. Pricing of the 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will be announced closer to its on-sale date.


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