Honda announced it will offer an electric and hybrid version of its Clarity sedan at the New York Auto Show on Wednesday, but the automaker said it still sees hydrogen power as the “long-term” solution for cutting down on fossil fuel emissions.
The Clarity is Honda’s hydrogen-power sedan that offers an EPA estimated range of 366 miles — the longest range of any zero-emission vehicle. Honda began leasing the Clarity in California at the end of 2016.
But Honda said it will also offer an electric and hybrid version of the sedan that will hit dealerships later this year. The hybrid will offer an all-electric range of 40 miles, but Honda hasn’t released the range for the battery-powered version.
Automotive News has reported that the all-electric Clarity will have a range of 80 miles, meaning it won’t come close to competing with Tesla’s Model 3 sedan that’s expected to have a range of 215 miles. The Chevy Bolt compact SUV, which began hitting dealerships late last year, has a range of 238 miles.
It seems strange that Honda would launch an electric vehicle with such a limited range at a time where automakers are pursuing long-range cars. But it could speak to Honda’s overall strategy to make hydrogen-powered cars the vehicles of the future.
Steve Center, vice president of the Connected and Environmental Business Development Office, told journalists at a roundtable event Monday that Honda sees hydrogen-powered vehicles as the “long-term” solution for cutting down on emissions. That’s because they offer long ranges than traditional battery-powered vehicles, perform better in colder weather, and can re-fill in just 5 minutes.
“That’s what we think is the ultimate technology for the long-term,” Center said.
But Honda realises that people aren’t keen on hydrogen-powered cars yet. That’s why the automaker is leasing the vehicle in California — Center said people don’t usually want to own new technology outright.
The automaker is expanding the Clarity line to offer people choice as it looks to introduce its hydrogen-powered version in other markets and popularise the vehicle. Honda says it will introduce the hydrogen-powered Clarity in the Northeast next, but does not have an exact timeline yet.
“What we’re doing with the Clarity is giving people choice,” Center said.
Honda says the all-electric Clarity will be powered by a 161-horsepower electric motor and offer 221 lb.-ft. of torque. It can charge in just 30 minutes using a DC fast charger.
The hybrid will be powered by a 181-horsepower electric motor and produce 232 lb.-ft. of torque. Prices for the new vehicles have not be released yet.