In 2008, Honda introduced its FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle; they discontinued it a few years later. The Clarity nameplate was rebranded in 2017 into a full line of three electric sedans including a new fuel-cell version (sold only in SoCal); a pure electric version sold in Oregon and California; and a plug-in hybrid which Honda plans to sell in all 50 states. Car and Driver calls this approach an “Elec-Trifecta; the point where gasoline, batteries and hydrogen fuel cells commingle.”
This triple powertrain strategy is a development and manufacturing approach many car manufacturers are exploring (Ford, Volvo and Hyundai to name a few). By using the same template and ultra-high-tensile steel, aluminum and composite materials for all three cars, production can be increased or decreased depending on which models show demand. The process benefits buyers, who can expect similar interior spaces, cargo volume and overall design details. Because only one production process is used for all three models, Honda has said its manufacturing prices will be reduced over time, passing savings to consumers. Honda’s President and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, has confirmed that by 2025, 2/3rds of all its cars sold in Europe will be powered by electric drivetrains. It’s clear that the Clarity line is a huge company pivot towards a zero-emission future.
This review will feature the 2019 Clarity electric version, which uses an AC electric motor outputting 221 lb ft-of torque and providing 161 horsepower. A 25.5 kWh lithium battery sits under the floor and behind the rear setbacks to preserve interior room. The all-electric Clarity EV has an 89-mile range, which puts it at the bottom of the pack, way below the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq, Hyundai Kona and Volkswagen e-Golf.
Honda says the Clarity Electric is meant to be a “larger, more premium EV at an affordable price” and is hoping their EV will undercut the Ioniq Electric’s $30,335 base price by thousands of dollars, making it a far better choice for drivers with a budget in mind. They also note that most drivers commute between 20 and 35 miles per day; the Clarity Electric can transport them 2 days in a row without a recharge. One big plus over a number of the aforementioned electrics: Clarity E comes with spacious seating for 5 adults. Another plus: Clarity Electric owners are provided with free 24/7 emergency road service (lockout assistance, flat tires, towing) during their 3 year/60,000 Mile lease term.
And additional driving benefit is created by the EV’s MPGe, which is excellent. It has a 126 city/103 highway rating and a 114 combined city/highway MPGe. The U.S. Department of Energy (www.fueleconomy.gov) estimates you’ll save $4,750 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the cost of driving an average new gas vehicle.
Clarity Electric’s trunk space benefits from not having to accommodate the Clarity Fuel Cell’s thick-walled carbon-fibre hydrogen tank. Honda advertises the Clarity E’s driving range as 80 miles. Plugincars.com says it gets 89 EV miles. The EPA has given the car a 111-MPG-estimated combined rating. SAE fast charging recoups 80% of Clarity’s power in 30 minutes. Level 2 chargers supply full power in 3 hours; a Level 1 wall power outlet takes 19 hours to supply full power.
Clarity Electric comes with a near-perfect 51/49 weight distribution from front to rear, Multi-Link Rear Independent Suspension and specially designed tires to mate efficiency with performance to create what Honda calls a “smooth, sporty ride.” Ultra high-strength steel in the chassis includes an ACE Body Structure in the front end, providing enhanced crash protection. Four levels of regenerative braking, controlled by deceleration selectors come standard. Using the HondaLink app, you can pre-set your cabin temp, set a charge timer, check battery status, estimate driving range, and find EV stations using your smartphone. A second, lower window placed under the rear deck spoiler provides drivers with additional visibility. Clear LED headlights and taillights give Clarity Electric a lighter, brighter appearance.
HondaSensing, an intelligent suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies, is standard. Key features include: a Collision Mitigration Braking System, a Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control and a Lane Keeping Assist System.
80% of Clarity E’s interior is made from eco-conscious materials like leather and ultra-suede created by recycling technologies, providing an environmentally conscious cabin. The vehicle offers 14.3 cubic feet of generous trunk space and 60/40 Split Folding Rear Seats.
As a Clarity Electric lessee, you’re eligible for an HOV sticker; you can drive alone in designated lanes. You’re also eligible for a California State Rebate check of $2500 and a Federal Tax credit of $7500. A Current EV representative can explain how easy it is to obtain these incentives.
REVISED JULY 2019
There are currently 4 primary incentives available to the California consumer that substantially lower the cost of buying or leasing an EV. CURRENT provides all the guidance or assistance you may need to apply for these incentives.