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.”
While the rest of the world is going full speed ahead to bring alternative fuel cars to market, Honda is busy eliminating them from its product mix. This week, Honda’s executive vice-president, John Mendel, announced that the company is dumping the Civic Hybrid and the compressed natural gas (CNG) models from its product lineup, according to Green Car Reports.
The Civic Hybrid was introduced in 2003 as an alternative to the Toyota Prius. It sold well at first, but Honda reportedly had problems with battery cooling and recalibrated the cars as they were brought in for service. After the cars were “fixed”, fuel economy was often worse than it was for conventional Civics with conventional gasoline engines. The word got out and sales fell off a cliff. Honda has never had the courage to fix its mistake. Now the Civic Hybrid is history and there is nothing in the pipeline to replace it until at least 2018.
Honda tried to promote the CNG cars but demand remained weak. Annual sales never topped 700 cars. “Honda has promoted CNG for many years, but customer demand remains quite small,” says Mandel. “There appears to be no real appetite on the part of competitors or policymakers to promote it. That, plus the negligible price different, mean that consumer demand just hadn’t developed as Honda hoped — and there seems little likelihood that the situation will change in coming years.”
Mandel does say that an updated Accord Hybrid will be in showrooms soon. Availability has been an issue in many parts of the country but supplies are scheduled to increase when the new, built in Japan Accord Hybrid arrives with its advanced two motor drivetrain. It is expected to exceed the 47 mpg fuel economy offered by the present car.
Mendel says the two motor system will be offered soon in another Honda model but declined to provide specifics. He also says the company will bring three new “green” cars to market by 2018, including a battery electric vehicle and new plug in hybrid.
Honda was quick out of the gate when the whole green car movement began. Its original 2 passenger Insight, released just after y2k, had excellent fuel economy from an early version of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist system. But since then, Honda gets a failing grade for bringing alternative fuel cars to market. It is completely MIA when it comes to promoting battery recharging infrastructure, battery research, or advanced plug in technology.
Instead, it is joining Toyota in pushing for fuel cell cars — a technology that has no supporting infrastructure. It’s something nobody wants, despite all the ballyhoo coming from Japan about how wonderful it is. The company has shown a complete lack of leadership in bringing affordable alternative fuel vehicles to market. Instead, Mendel says it is concentrating its efforts on new models powered by ultra-efficient gasoline engines.
Honda just doesn’t get it. They are completely tone deaf and out of step with the transportation needs of a world experiencing climate change. Their corporate timidity could possibly lead to them losing their once dominant position in the marketplace. Honda is desperately in need of some cojones in the boardroom if it wants to remain relevant among the world’s car makers.
The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is so popular in Japan, that U.S. showrooms are having trouble keeping them in stock. The culprit?A lack of batteries. So even though the Accord is built in Ohio, where the new NSX will also call home, Honda’s home market has first dibs on the hybrid battery, resulting in low U.S. sales despite rave reviews.
Between October 2013 and February 2014, Honda sold just 2,414 Accord Hybrids in the U.S., compared to over 6,000 in Japan. Despite strong demand, especially following the end of Honda Insight production, some U.S. dealers have to put interested parties on a waiting list. That said, a quick inventory search of New England Honda dealers reveals about a dozen new Accord Hybrids awaiting new owners.
In other words, the Accord Hybrid hasn’t hit Fit EV levels of popularity yet.
But I can understand why so many people are keen to buy one for themselves. The Accord Hybrid felt more like a turbocharged sedan than a 50 MPG fuel-sipper, and its starting MSRP makes it a keen competitor for consumer dollars. I’ve recommended several friends check one out after my time behind the wheel, and buyers are obviously responding.
For its part, Honda is looking to increase battery supply, though failed to deliver on specifics or timing. Honda finally has a legitimate Prius competitor, and the only thing holding sales back is…Honda. Let’s hope they get it sorted out soon.
Source: Wards Auto
I’m used to driving forced induction cars, from massive turbodiesel pickups to tiny Japanese imports with no more displacement than a soda bottle. I’ve always had an affinity for turbochargers, the so-called replacement for displacement, though I think I’ve found a replacement for turbos in the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid. With its 2.0 liter Earth Dreams engine, the Accord Hybrid manages to blend comfort, fuel economy, and performance in a sedan that more than of my Millennial friends mistook for a BMW.
Of course my father recognized the Accord for an Accord the moment he saw it, but to me the Honda was handsome from pretty much any angle. It looked good without being flashy, and while the roads will soon be overrun with similar-looking models in just a few months, it’s hard to find flaw with its design. While other automakers are chasing the sculpted fluid look (think Hyundai and Ford), Honda’s Accord has grown into a burly big sedan with some serious chest hair. It may not sign any modeling contracts, but it definitely gets some second looks.
The interior is comfortable, predictable, and plain, none of which are necessarily a bad thing. After being overloaded by Kia’s 42-button center console, having fewer systems to operate and worry about was a nice change of pace. On the same token, the number of information screens in the Honda Accord can get a little bit overwhelming, while at the same time being underwhelming; how many people really need to see whether the power is going into, or out of the battery at any given time? It just seems a bit superfluous.
Not all of the info screens were useless though, as I enjoyed watching my instant fuel economy rise and fall, and the coaching bars in the instrument cluster helped me maximize fuel economy when the mood struck. These coaching bars would rise and fall depending on how much power you were using or regenerating, but they never felt intrusive or judgmental, going from an environmentally-friendly green to a non-threatening blue when you step on the accelerator.
So let’s skip right on ahead to the good stuff; how does the Honda Accord Hybrid drive? In a word, beautifully. You’d never know this was a hybrid by the way it drives, feeling more like a gutsy V6 than a 2.0 liter four-banger. Stomp the gas, and the Accord surges forward with the same gusto and torque as any other sedan in this segment, and while the official rating pegs the 0 to 60 MPH in the 7.1 second range, the Honda Accord Hybrid feels a lot faster. That’s thanks to a flat torque curve and a gearless E-CVT transmission the delivers power smoothly and with confidence, resulting in uninterrupted acceleration throughout the power band.
It’s an absolute pleasure to drive, and I never found myself wanting for more passing power at any speed. My only qualm is that at times, the hybrid system seemed to suffer from a sort of “turbo lag”, with a noticeable delay between pressing the pedal and actual movement forward. It was never so much a problem or even annoyance as it was something I quickly got used to, and unlike my experience driving other hybrids, I never had to back off from a passing maneuver because I ran out of acceleration.
This is, in short, a no-compromises hybrid, and one that starts just north of $30,000. It’s the anti-Prius, and once you start checking off the options list, it becomes a damn comfortable car too. Add in a massive sunroof, LED headlights, and a well-appointed leather interior, and the Accord Hybrid becomes a pseudo luxury car, loaded with the kind of technology and creature comforts (oh seat warmers, how I love thee) on par with many entry-level luxury options. Among my favorite features in my fully-loaded model was the adaptive cruise control and passenger-mounted turning camera, which broadcast my blindspot to the backup camera/touchscreen display every time I put on my left turn signal.
Sure, it’s still a Honda Accord, but at least two of my friends mistook it for a BMW, if you can believe it. Personally, I don’t see it in the least, but it happened more than once in the span of a week. That’s got to be worth something, though I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.
Even with a heavy foot and high speeds, the Honda Accord Hybrid delivered fuel economy that makes puts my Chevy Sonic with its 1.4 liter turbo to shame. I never saw less than 38 MPG on the highway, and cruising at 70 MPH saw my MPG match or exceed the EPA ratings, which stands at 50 MPG city and 45 MPG highway for a combined 47 MPG. Thanks to the innovative hybrid system, I was able drive nearly two miles from my house to the grocery store on battery power alone. While it helps that most of the trip is downhill, in my old Jeep Wrangler a similar round trip consumed nearly a quarter tank of gas. Not an exaggeration.
Even though my tester came in at over $36,000, you can have a no-frills model sans navigation and leather seats, but equipped with a backup camera, for $30,000 if you include the destination fee. That’s the best bargain in the hybrid car market if you ask me, delivering an engaging driving experience and the kind of fuel economy that once required driving a car akin to an oversized go-kart (and with a much worse power-to-weight ratio).
For the average driver, the Honda Accord Hybrid can save as much as $700 a year in fuel costs, though those who do mostly city driving will see even more savings. I found myself hard pressed to come up with places to go in order to use up the fuel in my loaner during the week I had the car, a fantastic problem to have.
Last week, Honda pulled the covers off of the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid, and perhaps some people wish they would have left it on. While it may not be the prettiest belle at the ball, the Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid does offer some impressive numbers that will make it a real contender in the marketplace. Chief among those numbers, an estimated 100 MPGe rating, as well as a pure-electric range that is competitive with its rivals.
100 MPGe, Up To 15 Miles Of EV Range
The 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid will hit dealerships in early 2013, and it comes with a new 2.0 liter “Earth Dreams” engine a 124 kW electric motor, and a 6.7 kWh battery pack. This combination will offer total output of 196 horsepower (137 from the gas engine, 59 from the electric motor) and between 10 and 15 miles of electric-only driving. It also qualifies, according to Honda, for a 100 MPGe rating under the EPA guidelines.
15 miles enough range to cover most around-town trips, and the 6.7 kWh battery pack qualifies the Accord Plug-in Hybrid for $3,750 in gov’ment money via a Federal Tax Credit. Honda has yet to announce the MSRP of the Accord Plug-in, though if Ford and Toyota’s pricing is any indication, it should be in the low-30’s/high 20’s with the tax credit.
More Than Powertrain Improvements
The Accord Plug-in Hybrid will come with special wheels, more aerodynamic design, and less weight. The wheels are designed to produce less drag, as are underbody trays for the engine and cabin floors. An aluminum hood, sub-frame, brake pedal, and rear bumper drop a substantial (though unspecified) amount of weight from the Accord Plug-in Hybrid. It no doubt also adds to the MSRP, while giving this new Honda a bit of a funky-but-not-fresh look.
Honda is taking a different route than most automakers by released the plug-in version of the Accord prior to the “standard” hybrid version. This is the case with all of Honda’s alt-fuel cars including their only pure electric car, the Honda Fit EV. While the first leases have already been signed for the Fit EV, you can only lease it in California and you can’t buy it just yet.
So far, Honda has been just another “also ran” in the hybrid game, unable to match the efficiency of the Toyota Prius, or the versatility of the Ford C-Max Energi. Unfortunately, the 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid already appears to have the same issue, falling squarely in the middle of the pack, at least on paper. Hell, even the debut pictures feature a car painted a very boring beige. Like, come on Honda! Give me a blue, a green, even white. But beige? Ugh. It’s like you want to be boring.
The interior is even less exciting though. Yes, there is a long list of standard features, but the interior couldn’t be more…appropriate. Touchscreen navigation and infotainment? Check. Standard gauge cluster? Check. MOST BORING SHIFTER EVER? Double check. Yawn.
Having just sold a ‘98 Honda Accord that served me very well, I really am rooting for the 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid to find a rabid customer base. While there was nothing exciting about my car, I did appreciate its frugality and reliability. Not once did that car, with nearly 180,000 miles on it, leave me stranded.
But the 1998 Honda Accord comes from a time when reliability was itself a rate quality. The average American really only had two choices when it came to reliable vehicles; you either drove a full-size pickup, or a Toyota/Honda. Everything else was a crapshoot at best. These days, the few new car buyers left have a lot of excellent, better-looking, more versatile and frankly more exciting options.
I hope Hibda has a great ad campaign lined up.