It’s official. The Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle will share its platform with a plug-in hybrid and a battery electric version starting in 2017. The Clarity FCEV is scheduled to go on sale in the US late this year with a lease price of “under $500.” Yesterday, American Honda executive vice president John Mendel said that plug-in hybrid and electric versions would follow in calendar year 2017. “We continue to view fuel cell as the ultimate, long-term solution to society’s energy and environmental concerns,” he said. But having a family of Clarity models is critical because, “this shared platform strategy will enable Honda to more efficiently respond to infrastructure and market developments.”
Honda is joining many other manufacturers who are designing new platforms that can accept a variety of powertrains. While Tesla Motors is all in on electric cars and electric cars only, the world’s major car makers are not ready to transition to building electric cars only any time soon. That point is likely still decades away. In the meantime, most see plug-in hybrids as the bridge between today and the cars of the future. Mendel says Honda expects the PHEV version of the Clarity will outsell the fuel cell and fully electric configurations but won’t discuss actual sales goals.
Honda is also ready to bring the Accord Hybrid back. It is scheduled to be in showrooms before summer and will feature a new two motor hybrid powertrain. Total horsepower is now 212, 8% more than for the old Accord Hybrid, which went out of production last year. The prior car was rated at 47 mpg combined, but Consumer Reports complained it only averaged 40 mpg during testing.
John Mendel told the press yesterday during an unveiling ceremony for the new Accord Hybrid that the car is rated 49 mpg city, 47 mpg highway, and 48 mpg combined under more stringent fuel economy ratings required by the government for 2017 models. That puts it in direct competition with the new Chevy Malibu Hybrid and hybrid models from Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, and Kia. Just when gas prices are the lowest in years, the market now has a wide variety of cars that get nearly 50 mpg to choose from. Will buyers flock to showrooms to buy one or will they be ignored by the masses? What do you think?