Two New EVs Coming Soon From … Honda?

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Honda Clarity FCEV
Honda Clarity FCEV at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show | Image Credit: Kyle Field

As those of us who are entrenched in the day to day of the electric vehicle march know all too well, two notable automotive leaders have not only almost completely dismissed EVs, but have staunchly headed in a different direction, down the path leading to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Recent news from one of these leaders — Honda — reveals that it has taken a shot of lithium to the arm and is bracing for a ramp up into battery electric vehicles. It has announced two new versions of the Honda Clarity line — a Honda Clarity Electric and a Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid Electric.

Honda Clarity FCEV
Screen capture from

The Great Honda Clarity Expansion

With the Honda Clarity having only been a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the addition of a fully battery-electric and a plug-in hybrid electric introduces two completely new vehicles to the platform. While the Clarity Fuel Cell and the Clarity Electric could conceivably share the same electric drivetrain, the introduction of a pure battery electric is a stark diversion from the hydrogen-only push we have seen from Honda in the past.


The new vehicles are slated to be available in 2017, with the Honda Clarity Electric arriving on the scene first — sometime in 2017, with availability likely limited to ZEV states.

The Plug-in Hybrid version will also arrive in 2017, boasting an all-electric range (AER) of over 40 miles. It is expected to be the top seller of the family. This makes sense, as PHEVs requires minimal lifestyle change when upgrading from conventional internal combustion vehicles. It feels and functions more like a hybrid … but with the option to plug in to extend the all-electric range of the vehicle and drive on the cheap.

As with the entrenched competitor, the Chevy Volt, the Clarity PHEV will be available in all 50 states, which is a great step forward in promoting electric vehicles to the masses, especially with a car that gets 40 miles (or more) of all-electric range.

The Clarity Platform

We had a chance to explore the Honda Clarity at the Los Angeles Auto Show back in September and found it to be a very large vehicle with a futuristic interior. The only real beef with the car was that it had two large hydrogen tanks and a massive fuel cell stack under the hood. Cutting the car over to batteries gets me a bit excited about the future of Honda.

Honda Clarity FCEV
Image Credit: Kyle Field

The Retrofit

What remains to be seen is whether or not Honda goes the easy route and simply replaces the fuel cell equipment with batteries in the same locations or if it takes the high road and optimizes the vehicle in light of the significant changes that come with the addition of ~15–60 kilowatt-hours of batteries and a motor for the PHEV.

Honda’s New Future

Tucked down at the bottom of the press release, as if Honda were embarrassed at the admission, is this bombshell (emphasis mine):

“In addition to the Clarity series, a reengineered 2017 Accord Hybrid will go on-sale this spring, delivering both top-of-class power and fuel efficiency in a midsize hybrid sedan, as Honda seeks to grow sales of electrified vehicles – hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles. On a global basis, Honda is aiming to have electrified vehicles account for two-thirds of its vehicles sales around 2030.”

While it’s clear that Honda’s love affair with the hydrogen fuel cell is far from over, the introduction of two new electric vehicles that are much more practical than their hydrogen-powered counterpart is fantastic news. Though, the brand still has a ways to go to become a truly viable competitor in what is shaping up to be a very competitive global EV market.

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

Kyle Field has 1638 posts and counting. See all posts by Kyle Field

67 thoughts on “Two New EVs Coming Soon From … Honda?

  • If wireless charging were added to PHEV’s with 40-50 miles of electric range you wouldn’t have the slight hassle of plugging in daily or forgetting to and every morning you would be good to go on electric.

    • The challenge with wireless charging is efficiency. Losing 10% of the power put into the car (or that you spend putting energy into the car) isn’t great. The more we can improve that, the better…or just automate the physical connection 🙂

      • Agreed but with 60 kWh to 100 kWh BEV I’m thinking that’s more of a big deal than say 2kWh to 3 kWh on a PHEV pack at 20 kWh to 30 kWh.

        • True…but as the average commute is ~30 miles anyways, that’s the same regardless of PHEV or EV. Annually, that’s still ~10,000 miles of EV driving @ 10% loss = 1,000 miles or ~330kWh lost or $50/year. Not the end of the world but is it worth it? Is there a better way? (pay no attention to the tesla robo-snake in the closet behind me)

          • I’ve got a model 3 reservation so I’m all signed upto to what your saying but I think if we want the 50% of so of people who say they will only consider an EV with 300+ miles of range to get on board soon then cost wise realistically I’m starting to think the PHEV’s with wireless is a pretty painless way for them to get going.

          • I honestly think that many or even most people would pay $50/year for the convenience. Convenience is a big deal… Messing with cords may be fun for early adopters, but not the majority of the population.

            I know this seems like a never-ending discussion, but my guess is that there’s a big market for convenient (less-efficient) wireless charging.

          • Indeed, think about how consumers now value electric window lifts and remote locks. People are literally too lazy to put the key in the door and turn it an eighth turn.

          • Definitely. Look at our obesity epidemic and its relationship to people taking just about every opportunity they can to not use a muscle.

          • Doh 🙁 One of the funny thing about our sub-100 mile range EVs – we ended up parking ~.5 miles from our destination which made for some great family walks. Now we just take the Tesla (lazy fat people) so not as much of an issue…though I did walk across the street from the Supercharger this morning to get a coffee… (training in Orange County today)

          • “Doh” — perfect 😀

            Well… your family clearly isn’t obese! but the tendency to convenience gets all of us to some degree or another.

          • I wonder who is going to invent the solar powered human spatula? In the direction we are heading, we will eventually need them. 🙂

          • Really Zach? I expect more from you. There is no extra 10% loss to make flux lines go from disk to disk with a small gap. If you don’t understand something technical, ask engineers and scientists like Bob does. He cleared this up in the comments section in 200-kw-wireless-ev-charging-momentum-dynamics-says by asking an engineer named Andrew Daga.

            Again, this is important.

          • The problem is, you get different answers from different engineers and scientists on this. 😀

            I’ll have to go read the comments on that thread, though.

          • I agree…but it’s also the emerging front of the fight for efficiency. A single, definable loss representing 5% of the full grid usage (total swag saying EV power usage = current grid usage) is a nice juicy low hanging fruit for an automated, touchless conductive (wired) charging solution.

          • If all land transport switches to EVs, total EV power usage is ~10% of current grid usage. I calculated this a while back, feel free to use the number.

          • What you are saying is that if we switched all ground transportation to electric we would need to generate only 10% more electricity? Does that include electrified freight (rail/truck) and delivery?

            Share your calculations?

            Did you include the electricity now used for oil extraction, refining and distribution?

            I’ve seen calculations that came up with a similar number but not as low as 10%, IIRC.

          • Yea. No American would drive out of there way to go to a special place many times waiting in line and then pull up to a pump dispensing dangerous liquid yet most american’s do that at least once a week it is called a gas station.

            Every day I walk into my house, lock the door, put my keys someplace I can find the next day. What is the big deal of taking a cord and plugin it into an outlet on my car on the way in.

      • Kyle, that 10% figure is wrong. There was an article on this site about it recently. Go find it and stop your FUD!!!

        Not the way an editor should act!

        This is important tech to further adoption and does not, by its inclusion, cause 10% extra losses! Wireless and wires amount to the same 10% losses to put AC into a DC car. You think wireless means more losses only because you don’t understand Maxwell’s equation.

        Ask Bob – he’ll help you out.

          • Of course! Here you are:


            check comment exchange between Bob and Andrew Daga

            Magnetic flux lines do not introduce losses of 10%. There are losses of 10% in wire SYSTEMS as well as wireless SYSTEMS.

        • I’m not comfortable with the zero additional loss by going wireless claim. I need to see it confirmed by multiple reliable sources.

          Don’t take this as an attack on the company. It’s just cautionary. I’ve been burned too often by manufacturer claims which don’t pan out.

        • Wireless losses are relatively low for low power applicationss, but the losses are very high for fast-charging applications. Soooooo I don’t think wireless is going to dominate any time soon.

  • Honda recently announced a push into electric motorbikes, a sector where it is a world leader. Honda’s “vehicle” targets probably include two-wheelers. SFIK fuel cells are not under consideration for bikes. Thus helps explain why Honda is shifting into BEVs, ahead of Toyota.

    • They are late. Zero is way ahead. BMW is in there, too. The competitors lose on range and performance.

    • I hope that’s true, I’ve always loved Honda but lamented their staunch opposition to EVs…if they are finally capitulating then there is hope indeed…

  • Maybe I can learn to appreciate a plug in hybrid… With longer range EV’s on the horizon I would think plug-ins are a useless mid term solution. However, I have realized plug-in hybrids, assuming they run in EV mode initially, will at least help to educate people on how enjoyably quiet an electric drive train is. Then once EV’s with significant range are readily available these people are already willing to make the switch…

    This “slow” transition is teaching me that I am impatient lol…

    • I’m with you in theory. That said, after test driving plenty of pure EVs & PHEVs, the drive quality and acceleration of PHEVs never seems to match up… except perhaps in the Volt, where it has a true 99% EV mode.

    • I agree with you, it does seem like an unnecessary step. By if we step back and look at the larger context, plug-in hybrids do advance the goal of cutting out FF sooner rather than later, simply because people are A LOT more willing to buy a hybrid. Sometimes it’s hard to see outside our little clean-tech bubble.

      • If I had to purchase a new car right now I would look for a used Volt.

        I couldn’t get to town and back with any of the lower range EVs, there’s no rapid charger available, and I’m not going to pay for a Mod S or X. (I’m too damn cheap.)

        For some it’s a problem of not having an affordable EV option that would serve their needs.

        If we moved everyone to PHEVs with 35+ mile ranges we’d cut oil use by over 75%.

  • A honda Jazz EV would be very tasty.

    • That’s the Honda Fit in the US…and we have the electric version in California. It’s available only for lease and in limited quantities. I agree…it would be a fun competitor to the Chevy Bolt and around the same size.

      • I think it’s not longer available for lease there even. “Sales” dropped to 0 several months ago, and think we reported on the end of its run, but who is really paying attention? 😀

        • Sorry did you say something…? 😉

  • As far as EV technology, Honda and Toyota have built and maintained a strong capability over the last decade or more, mostly with hybrids. Software, patents, motors, power modules (are they on version5 now of power modules?), supplier relationships, etc. They should be able to implement well and quickly because the org capability and technical foundation is ready.

    There’s a big catch, however – vertical integration and scale for batteries. Reading the KQED article about the Gigafactory, tesla is going all the way back to vats of electrolyte slurry, winding separators, the whole process. Can a car maker really survive without a close hand in battery manufacturing? I don’t know.

    Also perhaps no two companies have remained as in touch with the American economy car consumer as Honda and Toyota, who together own 6 of the top 10 slots on the top 10 selling us cars list. And today, ICEs rule 99% of the market and they know what sells.

    • “Reading the KQED article about the Gigafactory, tesla is going all the way back to vats of electrolyte slurry, winding separators, the whole process. Can a car maker really survive without a close hand in battery manufacturing? I don’t know.”
      -Yep, this deep involvement in the battery production is critical, and I think anyone assuming that big OEMs aren’t getting behind by the day are kidding themselves. Imagine the ICE industry needing a startup oil industry to get rolling, and this hot startup car company makes all the right connections to get the cheapest oil. (Oh yeah, and the oil is part of the car.) OK, bad metaphor, but anyway…

      • Metaphor works – perhaps if shifted to the engine and transmission instead of the fuel. Think of automakers who tried to outsource the engine. Most have failed except for a few exotics like McLaren or whatever. A critical business decision is what to outsource (and therefore have no competitive advantage in that area) and what to retain in house and strive for competitive advantage.

        • Tesla outsourced wheels, tires, brakes, brakepads, suspension, steering wheel and attached apparatus, touchscreen, small motors, and wire. Also airbags I think. That’s not a very long list, is it?

    • “Can a car maker really survive without a close hand in battery manufacturing?”

      Yes. At least now, not so much previously.

      At this point LG Chem has, I assume, a good product and is selling to whomever wants to purchase. I expect we’ll see multiple companies cranking out batteries for EVs. It’s likely to be a huge market. Research and development will mostly happen at the battery company level, I don’t see car manufacturers funding large scale battery research.

      Prior to this we saw a very large battery manufacturer, BYD, purchase a car manufacturing company in order to get into EV/PHEV manufacturing. I’m not sure they would have done so if they saw existing car companies willing to start producing electric cars.

      And Tesla partnered up with Panasonic as a way to speed up the growth of battery manufacturing. Tesla would have been very severely supply constrained if it had waited for the industry to ramp up on its own.

      The Gigafactory was probably very effective in getting LG Chem to ramp up their production.

      • True story that LG is ramping up to be one of the worlds huge players. Having said that, any car maker who abdicates battery R&D to LG will find themselves with zero competitive advantage on the most important part of the car because them and all thier closest friends are buying the same batteries from lg.

        LG is getting very skilled at cells, packs, thermal management, control, the whole bit. One to watch.

        • There was rumor of LG plans to build a car of its own. We’ll see. Have heard similar rumors regarding Samsung for years.

          • LG *is* basically building a car of its own…. it’s called the Chevy Bolt 🙂

    • Tesla’s lining up its own *mines*. I’m still wondering what they’re going to do to secure cobalt supplies, but yeah, they are way deep into the battery manufacturing!

  • Shot of lithium to the arm? You crack me up, Kyle. Lol. That could be misinterpreted.
    But Hondas sudden about face on EVs is even funnier. 2 months ago committed to hydrogen. Now it’s EVs. They are shipping data sheets in volume. Haha. They dont have any EVs. So press releases will have to do. Is this the new trend? Ford likewise. Could Toyota be next? Don’t miss the next exciting episode of auto exec screw ups and sudden reversals. Stay tuned to your CT channel. Don’t touch that dial…

    • Thanks!
      2 months ago, there was no Model 3 with 400,000 reservations threatening to eat Honda’s lunch. 😀 I would love for Toyota and Ford to jump on board.

      • And I fight trolls that say to model 3 400k reservations,
        Dat ain’t nuttin. It’s a crummy laptop battery. Tesla hasn’t done anything. But car execs like green… Bills, lol. That wakes the up faster than a jolt of Java!

      • I thought they were a little manic depressive….
        Jimi Hendrix
        Manic depression frustrates my soul
        I know what I want but I just don’t know,
        How to go about getting it.

        There must be kinda way outa here

    • The low spark of high heeled boys as they rapidly spin 180s….

  • Big question is are these car manufacturers going to have to give that R&D money they took from taxpayers for fuel cell development when it was all complete BS.

    • There gonna be 50 hydrogen fueling station in Germany by the end of this year, 100 – by 2020 and 400 by 2023 and it is just a government program and just in Germany.

      • aren’t those something like $1 million a pop?

        in any case, a complete waste, imho.

        • I doubt the industry is gonna take advices from tesla or tesla fans. They have been around for ten times longer than any tesla and know how to do business.

        • The program also plans to build a big amount of charging stations and superchargers what will be a waste, imo, but that’s how it is.

          • what do you mean by superchargers? only Tesla builds those?

            and why do you think charging stations would be a waste?

          • Normal recharging points and high power recharging points. Don’t know what means what.

          • OK. Superchargers are about twice as fast as DC fast chargers, which are much faster than Level 3 charging stations. All have a place in the market, imho, but imagine either DC fast chargers or Level 2 chargers will eventually be seen as a mistake.

  • Glad to see that Honda is going to produce a battery EV but I would MUCH prefer the unfortunately discontinued Honda Fit EV to yet another pseudo-sports car.

  • Hmmph, 40 mile electric range. Haven’t they paid any attention to the market? It’s been sending very strong signals as to how much range people want.

    • Forty miles covers a very percentage of normal daily driving. GM and Toyota did a study years ago and found something like 85% of all daily driving was 37 miles or less. (Numbers need to be checked.)

  • Tesla has sucked some of the air out of the room, but we’re still waiting for an EV market leader in the crossover, minivan, and pickup truck spaces, both of which are significant market segments in the US. Come on, Toyota and Honda! We know you can make high-quality EVs that meet the needs of families. Sedans are nice for some people, but they simply don’t meet the needs of a large population segment.

  • I made several comments recently about changes in Honda press releases suggesting they might be moving more toward EV’s it looks like I was right.

  • Why does Honda like the ugly Insight style rear 1/4s w/ flat tops!??? Just make it normal circle! I was gung ho for it till i saw the rear 1/4 pic!

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