Not to be left behind after both Kia and Hyundai both released not a single hybrid/electric/plug-in hybrid vehicle but entire line-ups of them – not to mention the Toyota Prius and all its variants, including the full-EV Prime – Honda came to the 2017 New York International Auto Show with a few tricks up its sleeve. It brought three alternative-fuel and -power models to its stand, all under the “FCX Clarity” banner.
If that seems familiar to you, it’s because it’s not the first time we’ve heard the words “FCX Clarity.” The hydrogen-powered version of the car – which was joined by both a full-electric and plug-in hybrid version at the show – has been around for some time now in concept form. Well, there’s a production version now too, due to go on sale later this year.
Only, it won’t be available in Canada. Not yet, anyway. Actually, it’s not available everywhere in the U.S., either; just select states.
Canada is not completely out of luck when it comes to Clarity, however; we will be getting the plug-in hybrid version, as Honda foresees that it will be the volume-seller of the lot.
It’s a pretty simple equation, really: the full EV (or battery EV “BEV” version) is good for 128 km of range on a full charge and while it is DC fast-charger-capable, Honda’s not sure it’s suitable for the longer average distances driven by Canadians on a regular basis. Even in the US, EVs still don’t have quite the foothold as range-extendable plug-ins.
As for the PHEV we’re getting, it’s good for an impressive 68 km of full EV power, which equals what’s offered by the likes of the Chevrolet Volt. That’s no small feat, as the Volt continues to be one of the leaders in the segment.
Charge time, meanwhile, is claimed to be 2.5 hours on a 240V charger. Power for the PHEV, meanwhile, is rated at 181 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque, which should make for some brisk progress. Three driving modes are offered, as well as a setting that puts maintaining the state of the battery’s charge priority one, so you can rely on electric power when you need it most, such as in stop-and-go traffic out of (or into) the city.
Added to which, the car looks like it will be able to make some pretty brisk progress. The cab-forwardness is pretty extreme, as are the futuristic drag-reducing rear wheel covers (they cover pretty swish two-tone wheels on the show car—we like). We’re unsure what those’ll be like in snowy Canada, however—
The interior, it must be said, is not quite as futuristic as you may think. Having said that, Honda’s interiors are already pretty futuristic, what with their big-screen all-touch interfaces and button-controlled transmissions. I guess for a production-ready car, there really wasn’t all that much more room to move in the “extra-super-duper-fantastic-futuristic” interior department.
What’s very interesting about the interior, however, is its size. Like the Toyota Mirai – which you’d think would be more Prius-sized than Camry-sized from looking at it – the Clarity actually leans more towards the Accord in size than it does the Civic.
There’s lots of room in here back and front, it’s airy, that infotainment screen is massive (you’ll see everything from Apple CarPlay/Android Auto power flow readouts there) but it’s still distinctly Honda—seats are flatter than something you’d see in the also-debuting Civic Si but the seating position is a good one.
As of right now, the PHEV is the only vehicle slated to be coming to Canada; Honda likes the idea of bringing the fuel cell car here, but cites issues such as climate and the current charging infrastructure as obstacles on the way. There’s only one place in Canada where regular joes like you and me can fill our H-car up, without the helping hand of an expert, and that’s in Surrey, B.C.
Honda did say, however, that the Canadian government has earmarked some $120 million to shore up its hydrogen charging infrastructure over the coming decades so it could just be a matter of time before we see the fuel cell model in our market.
As of right now, the Clarity PHEV goes on sale later this year, and we’re looking forward to see how it stacks up with the current leaders in the PHEV world such as the aforementioned Volt and Hyundai Sonata-Kia Optima twins.