Once is once. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a pattern. In recent times, Honda has been making several utterly boneheaded moves when it comes to electric vehicles and plugin hybrids. It is missing important opportunities and doing strange things that hurt its image. If they don’t watch it, the company will earn the same reputation that Toyota has on this, and that’s definitely NOT a good thing.
Honda Has A Crush On The Clarity (Literally)
Let’s start with what they’re doing to the Honda Clarity. My colleague Jo Borrás covered this, but I’m going to recap here real quick. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
It’s just like the ignominious end that came to the General Motors EV 1. The car was available only as a lease, and once the lease is up, they don’t care how much you like it. You have to give it up, and they’re not selling them used to anyone. Instead, Honda is taking the plug-in hybrid Clarity to the crusher whenever they get their hands back on it.
An employee at LKQ posted a video on TikTok showing a Honda Clarity in good condition getting crushed, but the video has since been removed. We don’t know Honda’s motivation here. There may be a serious issue with the vehicles, or they might not like the idea of having to pay for warranty repairs over the next few years.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t look good to be crushing seemingly good electric cars in 2020. Strike one.
No Honda e In The US
This isn’t exactly news, but I learned about this when I saw that the Honda e won German Car of the Year. It’s a cool little car with retro looks that US buyers would eat up, but Honda is not planning on selling any in the United States.
In some ways, I can see why.
The Honda e is only rated to go 125 miles on a charge. At US highway speeds (which can be 80+ MPH in some states <cough>Texas</cough>), it might struggle to go 75 miles. Another thing that’s Texas-sized are the gaps in our EV charging network, so it’s probably not a good fit for us.
Or, you know, Honda could put a bigger battery in.
On the other hand, it’s not a crossover, and let’s face it, us Americans are getting old and fat (statistically speaking). As a Chinese doctor told me once, we eat too many hamburgers and drink too much Coca Cola. Like the people on Wall-e, we struggle to do things like climb into lower cars. We obviously wouldn’t want a low car and will need to wait for a Honda EV crossover.
Heck, Honda could probably release one from its up-scale luxury brand Acura, right?
The New MDX
As I pointed out in this other article, Honda really dropped the ball with the new 2022 MDX, and the vehicle is supposed to be Acura’s flagship.
The 2017-20 Sport Hybrid was pretty cool. It had three motors, with independent electric power to the rear wheels. Like the NSX, it was designed for performance. You get the good launch that only electric can give you, followed on by power from a 3.5L V6 engine. It even sounded cool. On the other hand, in the economy mode the vehicle was quiet and smooth, not unlike an EV.
We hoped the next MDX would come with at least a plugin hybrid version, so that we could drive it on electric only for short trips, but use gas for extra performance or range. Instead, Honda decided to not offer a hybrid version at all, nor did it say that they ever intend to sell an all electric version of the vehicle.
It’s too bad, too, because the new MDX is a neat looking SUV, and has a lot of power and family-friendly features. It’s just about 10-15 years late.
Why Is Honda Doing All This?
Honestly, we don’t know, but we can make a few educated guesses.
First, it might just be delaying and waiting for the price of batteries to fall. Basically, take advantage of the work others are putting in to beef up supply chains, and then walk in and join the party once it’s going. It’s arguable unethical, but it could pay off in the long run.
Another reason might be that Honda is coming from the same culture as Toyota. Stability is valued over innovation. Change happens slowly, or not at all, because change brings with it uncertainty that can slow down production lines, drive up costs, and hurt profits. It’s good for quality and good for production to do things the Toyota way, but it’s bad for responding to fast changes in the market to be too conservative.
Until Tesla came along and shook things up, the automotive industry wasn’t a place where change happened fast.
Whatever their reasons, Honda needs to figure out why it’s being this way and then change. It’s not good for them in the long run.
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.