The Japanese auto behemoth is hedging its bets on the shifting sands of green machines

Between low gas prices, national carbon reduction pledges, and fluctuating regulations, it’s not exactly certain where the market for environmentally friendly transportation will head next. But that’s not bothering Honda, which just announced it will expand its Clarity lineup to include new plug-in hybrid and all-electric variants, essentially providing all avenues of attack when it comes to green options for consumers.

You probably recognize the Clarity nameplate as Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the four-door sedan offered up in December of last year as an answer to the Toyota Mirai. The move to include a hybrid and an EV, in addition to the hydrogen Clarity, coincides with Honda’s stated intentions of reducing carbon emissions over the long term.

“The Honda Clarity is aimed at accelerating the deployment of advanced electrified powertrain technology and bringing electrified vehicles further into the mainstream,” said senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Jeff Conrad.

Honda has previously indicated that it wants 2 out of every 3 vehicles sold to be electrified by the year 2030. That’s a mighty ambitious goal, but an expanded Clarity lineup is a big step towards making it a reality.

Read on for more details, as well as a few of the specs on the newly unveiled Clarity hybrid and EV.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why It Matters

Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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Honda Clarity PHEV pictured on the left, Honda Clarity EV pictured on the right.

Expanding the Clarity line is a natural move for Honda in its quest for ever-increasing eco-friendliness. The nameplate is a great fit for any vehicle with green sensibility under the hood, grouping together like-minded buyers who might be tempted to try something different.

To help establish the Clarity name a little more solidly, Honda says it wants to sell 75,000 units, including hybrids, EV’s, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, in the U.S. over the course of the next four model years. Honda also says that it anticipates a five-fold increase in electric Hondas sold in the U.S. over the same timespan.

Clearly (sorry), this is an investment in the future for Honda.

The Clarity line looks the part, too, with futuristic exterior styling, 18-inch wheels alloy wheels, and eco-friendly cabin materials. Onboard tech includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the Honda Sensing autonomous and semi-autonomous safety suite.

Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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Clearly, this is an investment in the future for Honda.

The plug-in hybrid Clarity is slated to hit dealers later in 2017. Under the hood, the Clarity PHEV pairs a 1.5-liter four-cylinder and electric motor, and can go 42 miles on electric power alone, or 330 miles when dipping into gasoline reserves. It’s also rated at 105 MPGe combined.

Meanwhile, the Clarity Electric gets a full charge in 3 hours from a 240-volt outlet, and 80 percent charge in 30 minutes from a DC quick charger. The press release did not state the Clarity Electric’s estimated range per charge.

Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Interior
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Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Interior
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Finally, the third Clarity, the one that gets a hydrogen powertrain, is currently in the process of deliveries, with over 100 units already in the hands of customers. Range is set at 366 miles per tank. Read the full review here.

Basically, it’s like this – Honda wants to remain as flexible as possible to the shifting demands of folks who want something green, and with a hydrogen car, a PHEV, and an EV, it’s got all the big ones covered. Honda also says its got another new American-made hybrid in the works for next year.

Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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I think it’s a smart play on Honda’s behalf – offer all three green machines, and see what sticks. Should hydrogen take off, then Honda has a massive head start over pretty much every other automaker outside of Toyota. If hybrids and electrics remain the big sellers, then well, the Clarity has those as well.

Press Release

Honda today revealed its all-new Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and Clarity Electric alongside the already available Clarity Fuel Cell, saying it will target U.S. sales of 75,000 Clarity vehicles in the first four model years. The Clarity series will contribute to an anticipated five-fold increase in Honda’s U.S. sales of electrified vehicles over the next four years as the company works toward its target that two-thirds of its global automobile sales will come from electrified vehicles by 2030.

The two all-new electrified Honda vehicles will join the Clarity Fuel Cell, launched in December 2016, to make Clarity the first ever vehicle series offering customers an expanded array of electrified vehicle choices with fuel cell, battery electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains wrapped in a sophisticated, spacious and comprehensively equipped five-passenger sedan.

Honda Goes Full Eco Warrior, Expands Clarity Line With PHEV And EV High Resolution Exterior
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"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 Motor Co., Inc., at the company’s auto show press conference. "The Clarity series also heralds the advancement of our Honda Electrification Initiative, representing our investment in the full spectrum of electric-vehicle technologies."

"Electrification is the future of mobility and the future of Honda, and it all starts now with this new Clarity series," added Steve Center, vice president of the Connected and Environmental Business Development Office at American Honda.

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Honda Clarity Series

As the next progression of Honda’s dynamic styling for electrified products, each Clarity variant has a low, wide aerodynamic body with unique design elements, including its own special hero color, and differentiated front styling, headlights, tail lamps and 18-inch alloy wheel designs. Combined with elegant and advanced exterior styling, each Clarity series vehicle has a spacious interior with comfortable seating for five adults, outfitted with premium, environmentally responsible materials.

Offering Honda’s "fun-to-drive" DNA, each Clarity variant provides a smooth, quiet and highly refined driving experience, aided by the smooth and seamless character of electric drive torque and acceleration. The Clarity series also features advanced technologies, including Display Audio with Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™, and the full suite of HONDA SENSING™ safety and driver-assistive technologies.

With three different powertrains and luxury packaging, the Clarity series has wide appeal. This shared "3-in-1" platform strategy will enable Honda to respond to infrastructure and market developments, provide customers nationwide with an ultra-low carbon vehicle that meets their lifestyle needs, and takes Honda toward higher volume sales of advanced powertrain products that will help reduce CO2 emissions.

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The Clarity series is at the vanguard of Honda’s commitment to address society’s energy and environmental concerns as the company expects significant growth in sales of efficient, lower CO2 electrified vehicles. Honda has previously announced plans to introduce a dedicated new hybrid car to the U.S. market in 2018. The new Honda hybrid car will be made in America.

Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid

The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, launching at dealerships nationwide later this year, is anticipated to earn an all-electric driving range rating of 42 miles1, the longest of any midsize plug-in hybrid. For longer trips, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid can utilize its hyper-efficient 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine to generate electricity and, under certain conditions, to act as a direct power source, resulting in an anticipated overall driving range rating in excess of 330 miles1.

The vehicle’s electromotive power comes from a 181-horsepower electric motor producing 232 lb.-ft. of torque and drawing power from both the gasoline engine and a 17-kilowatt hour (kWh) battery pack with a recharge time of 2.5 hours at 240 volts. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is anticipated to earn an EPA fuel economy rating of 105 MPGe1 (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent) combined, at the top of its class. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid features three selectable modes – Normal, Econ and Sport – allowing drivers to customize their experience, maximizing efficiency or driving performance. A fourth mode – HV mode – is provided to maintain the battery’s state of charge and can be selected in conjunction with Normal, Econ and Sport driving modes.

As the sales volume leader in the Clarity lineup, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will be offered in two premium-contented trims, standard and Touring.

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Honda Clarity Electric

The 2017 Honda Clarity Electric is geared toward consumers who desire a spacious, comfortable and affordable sedan that suits their daily driving needs. The Clarity Electric is powered by a 161-horsepower (120-kilowatt) electric motor producing 221 lb.-ft. of torque and drawing power from a 25.5-kWh battery pack. The vehicle can by fully charged in just over three hours at 240 volts, and when using DC fast charging with the SAE Combined Charging System can achieve an 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes.

The model is anticipated to have an anticipated EPA fuel economy rating of 120/102/111 MPGe (city/highway/combined)2. Like the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, the Clarity Electric features three selectable driving modes – Normal, Econ and Sport. The Clarity Electric will launch later this year, starting with an attractive lease program in California and Oregon.

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Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Honda views fuel cells as the ultimate zero-emissions vehicle technology and the Clarity Fuel Cell offers green early adopters the latest technology to be on the forefront of "what’s next." Honda began deliveries of the 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell in December 2016 in select California markets, where a consumer friendly network of hydrogen stations continues to grow, and has already delivered more than 100 vehicles.

Technological innovations to the Clarity Fuel Cell have created a fuel cell stack that is 33 percent more compact with a 60 percent increase in power density compared to its predecessor, the Honda FCX Clarity. The more compact fuel cell and integrated powertrain, now comparable in size to a V-6 engine, fits entirely under the hood of the car, allowing for a more spacious cabin with seating for five passengers.

At 366 miles, the Clarity Fuel Cell has the highest EPA driving range rating of any zero-emission vehicle in America, including fuel cell and battery electric vehicles, and an EPA fuel economy rating of 68 MPGe3 combined. The Clarity Fuel Cell is available for the competitive introductory lease price of $369 a month for 36 months with $2,868 due at signing4. The lease terms include an attractive mileage allowance of 20,000 miles per year, up to $15,000 of hydrogen fuel, up to 21 days of an Avis Luxury Rental in California, 24/7 roadside assistance, and eligibility for California "White Sticker" single occupant HOV access. Lessees can also apply for the State of California $5,000 rebate5. The Clarity Fuel Cell is available in three colors: Bordeaux Red Metallic, White Orchid Pearl and Crystal Black Pearl.

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