Honda has adopted an unusual strategy with its Clarity, creating a whole new model for its green car, separate from its mainstream midsized sedan, the Accord.
While the Accord is available as a conventional hybrid, the Clarity sedan will encompass three models: a battery electric with 89-mile range, a 48-mile plug-in hybrid, and a fuel-cell vehicle (following on the original Clarity FCX).
Beyond the powertrains, all three are essentially identical–give or take a little bit of trunk space and a few digitally rendered gauges.
All three seat five, in an especially sleek—and slick—fastback sedan body style with vestigial aero spats over the rear wheels.
All three are now on the market, though the Clarity Fuel Cell is sold only in certain areas of California near hydrogen fueling stations, and the Clarity Electric only in California and Oregon.
We decided to poll our Twitter followers to see which version they would buy if the Clarity Electric and Clarity Fuel Cell were available nationwide.
— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) April 9, 2018
Honda says the plug-in hybrid will be the volume leader by far, especially since it's the only plug-in hybrid other than the Chevrolet Volt (and BMW i3 REx) that offers more than 40 miles of electric range.
The Clarity Electric's 89-mile range, however, looks dated compared with the Chevrolet Bolt at 238 miles, the 2018 Nissan Leaf at 151-miles, and the Tesla Model 3 at 310 miles, to cite a few examples.
As with previous Honda fuel-cell cars, sales of the Clarity Fuel Cell will be concentrated around urban Orange County, California, where hydrogen filling stations are most prevalent.
The number of retail hydrogen stations in California continues to grow; as of a couple of weeks ago, it reached 33 sites.
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid drive, Napa Valley, Caifornia, Dec 2017
Although the range of choices for all three types of non-petroleum-burning cars also continues to expand, no other green car currently offers such a selection of powertrain options.
It seemed a good opportunity to us to get a direct comparison of what buyers are interested in, independent of factors such as the looks or type of car or who makes it.
Readers can compare head-to-head a short-range plug-in car with a gas range extender, a longer-range traditional electric, or what some consider the holy grail of green cars, a fuel-cell vehicle with more than 360-miles of electric range.
As always, please note that our Twitter polls are far from scientifically valid, due to small sample size and self-selection by those who choose to participate.