With about 100 of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles already on the road in select California markets, Honda sets its sights on the rest of the Clarity series of electrified eco-cars with the debut of the plug-in hybrid and fully electric variants.
Let's start with the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, the most interesting of the two debuts and the model sure to have the widest appeal. The PHEV's powertrain merges a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine, a 181-horsepower electric motor producing 232 pound-feet of torque and a 17 kWh battery pack. With a full 2.5-hour recharge, the battery pack supplies enough juice for 42 miles of pure electric range before the gasoline engine needs to step in and extend the total range to over 330 miles. That EV range is shy of the Chevrolet Volt's 53 miles, but the Clarity is a significantly larger car.
Much like the Accord Hybrid, the Clarity's gasoline engine will primarily operate as an efficient range-extending generator, supplying power to the electric motor without a direct connection to the wheels. However, Honda has specified that "under certain conditions" -- most likely hard acceleration -- it can act as a direct power source.
All in, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is expected to earn an EPA estimate of 105 MPGe combined.
Honda also debuted the full battery electric version of this chassis. The 2017 Honda Clarity Electric is powered by a 161-horsepower (120 kW) electric motor sending 221 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. Power is stored by a 25.5 kWh battery pack that can be fully charged in just over three hours at a Level 2 (240 volt) station. DC fast charging with the SAE Combined Charging System can cram in an 80-percent charge in just 30 minutes.
Official range estimates for the Clarity Electric have not been officially announced, but reports based on statements made by Honda representatives and estimates based on the battery capacity predict it will be around 80 miles. So, it's a good thing the Clarity charges so quickly.
The 2017 Clarity Electric is anticipated to receive estimates of 120 mpge city, 102 mpge highway and 111 mpge combined when it launches with a lease program in California and Oregon. I'm guessing the differences in model years -- 2017 for the Electric and 2018 for the Plug-in Hybrid -- indicates the order the two models will reach dealerships.