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Honda to expand Clarity to three-car lineup, including EV and plug-in variants

The fate of the Accord Plug-In Hybrid is yet to be determined.

Get used to this silhouette -- you're going to be seeing plenty of it in the coming years.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

During the unveiling of its 2017 Accord Hybrid, Honda took some time to talk about ramping up its electrification efforts in the near future. The biggest takeaway from that discussion is the confirmation that Honda will expand the Clarity Fuel Cell into a three-car lineup, each featuring different levels of electrification.

Honda's Clarity Fuel Cell will go on sale in California (one of, if not the only state with any semblance of a hydrogen infrastructure) later in 2016. Following that, two other Clarity models will go on sale -- a battery-electric variant, as well as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Those two are estimated to go on sale in 2017, but there are no specifics beyond that.

Like the Clarity Fuel Cell, the Clarity EV will go on sale first in California. The Clarity Plug-In, however, will debut all across the US at the same time. Honda says it's still working out the details with the EV.

Details are scant at the moment, but Honda promises that its Clarity Plug-In will achieve more than 40 miles of electric-only range, blowing most current PHEVs out of the water. There is currently no discussion of pricing or specific timelines.

While Honda has promised to electrify all of its core models over the next decade and beyond, there's no certainty that the Accord Plug-In will return. The Clarity and Accord are similarly sized, and it's rarely a wise business decision to introduce models that compete with each other (ask Oldsmobile and Pontiac how that turned out).

Honda's decision to expand Clarity is not a move dissimilar to Hyundai's, which unveiled the Ioniq this past year. The Ioniq is the first car to have three distinct electrified platforms -- gas-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric. The Clarity lineup will be similar, but with a far larger car (it's bigger than the Accord, whereas Ioniq is a compact) and the addition of a hydrogen fuel cell variant.