Assessing the Honda Clarity range: how electric cars fit in, and why Page 3

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Honda Clarity lineup: Electric, Plug-In Hybrid, Fuel Cell, at 2017 New York auto show

Honda Clarity lineup: Electric, Plug-In Hybrid, Fuel Cell, at 2017 New York auto show

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The all-electric hatchback, she said, would carry a starting price of $37,500 and offer a rated range of 200 miles or more (it came in at 238 miles).

The Bolt EV went on sale last December, the same month as the first Clarity Fuel Cell.

It's worth noting some other factors as well:

  • the Japanese planners weren't that interested in the all-electric model, as Guzowski said;
  • the experience of Fit EV owners at the time seemed to indicate that the little electric car's 80-mile range was fine, but that it needed to be bigger; and
  • commuting distances in Japan are far lower than in the U.S., meaning that even today electric-car planners see U.S. demands for 200 miles of range as excessive.

Added together, the battery size (and consequently the range) had been set by the time the Bolt announcement shook up the expectations of electric-car buyers.

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

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Finally, Honda said in its press release that it expects to deliver about 75,000 vehicles from the entire Clarity lineup over four years.

Assuming that would be model years 2017 through 2020, here's our prediction for U.S. sales (including lease-only fuel-cell and electric versions). These were not confirmed by Guzowski, we should point out:

  • Clarity Fuel Cell: 1,000 each year for 2017 through 2020, totaling 4,000
  • Clarity Electric: 1,000 each year for 2018 through 2020 (and perhaps 500 for 2017?), totaling 3,500
  • Clarity Plug-In: 22,500 each year for 2018 through 2020, totaling 67,500

In other words, the only important Clarity version with a plug that Honda will sell in volume is the plug-in hybrid model.

That's also the only one that will be sold by all Honda dealers; the hydrogen car is limited to California, the only state with notable fueling infrastructure, and the all-electric model will be sold in only a handful of states to be specified later.

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid debuts at 2017 New York auto show

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid debuts at 2017 New York auto show

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So we look forward to driving the Clarity Electric later this year—but we're more interested in the plug-in hybrid Clarity.

That's because it's the only one that most Americans are ever likely to see on their local roads.

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