Despite being the originator of modern hybrid cars in the US with its original Insight model in 1999, Honda has struggled to be seen as a leader in electrified automobiles, largely ceding that green ground to automakers such as Toyota and Tesla. That hasn't stopped it from trying, however, and Honda is poised to make a big push into the electric-car arena with all-new EV and plug-in hybrid models based on its.
But as Automotive News has learned, the Clarity EV looks like it may have a massive handicap when it comes to market -- range. Honda's forthcoming pure-electric will be available with a battery good for about 80 miles, a jarringly short distance compared even to aging models like the (100 miles) and (107 miles). Chevrolet's new has a range that's nearly three times as long (238 miles), and the forthcoming is expected to offer similar performance. An 80-mile range would put the as-yet-unseen Clarity EV's range close to that of Honda's own , a model that went out of production in 2014.
Honda's desire to use the Clarity fuel cell model's platform and keep the price around $35,000 (before tax credits or other spiffs) are the key reasons, according to the report, why engineers were unable to shoehorn a bigger battery into the model for longer range. Keeping the model affordable to both build and sell to everyday customers was the model's defining priority.
If the Clarity's range proves to be its Achilles heel, its physical size may be its trump card. The Clarity fuel-cell model is a large car, about the same size as an, and the pure-electric variant should offer similar interior space to its hydrogen-powered relative. That means the Clarity EV should be significantly larger than other dedicated EVs on the market, save Tesla's far costlier and , which play squarely to premium buyers.
When reached for comment, Honda spokesperson Jessica Pawl confirmed the Clarity EV's 80-mile range and said, "Starting in 2016, Honda will begin introduction of a new generation of the Honda Clarity series of vehicles, with the hydrogen-powered Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle, followed by a new Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-In Hybrid in 2017, as the company strives to realize significant growth in sales of electrified vehicles."