Honda Clarity Will Have Surprisingly Short 80-Mile Range

Honda has put itself in a challenging situation: selling a battery electric car that gets limited range as the market prepares for long-range electric cars.

Honda’s all-electric Clarity, which debuts this spring in the U.S., will go about 80 miles on a single charge, as reported by Automotive News.

This takes place about two months after Chevrolet rolled out the 238-mile range Bolt and as the 215-plus-mile Tesla Model 3 is due this summer. Nearly every other battery electric car on the market goes over 80 miles now.

The first mass produced all-electric car, the Nissan Leaf, was in the vicinity of that range until going up to about 107 miles per charge in the current edition.

Honda made the decision based on two factors: building on the fuel cell vehicle platform and keeping it affordable to the typical Honda customer.

The physical size of the Clarity appears to be well suited for the fuel cell and plug-in hybrid versions. The battery-only version needs a different platform to mount more battery packs to carry the sedan anywhere near 200 miles in range.

As for price, it’s expected to be around $35,000 before incentives to keep it competitive with the Bolt and Tesla Model 3. Honda says making the all-electric Clarity longer range would drive up the sticker price beyond what people will pay for it.

“A pillar of the Honda brand is affordability, and if Honda came out with some obscenely priced long-range electric car, what does that do for the brand?” Steve Center, vice president of environmental business development at American Honda Motor, told Automotive News. “Most of our customers would not be able to acquire it.”

Honda seems to be very much influenced by its sales experience with all-electric Honda Fit EV, which the company discontinued in 2014. The Fit EV got about that many miles per charge, but had the challenge to overcome of being a small car. Honda said it heard complaints from about 1,100 U.S. customers about its small size.

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A sales forecast wasn’t released, but the electric Clarity will be beat the Fit EV “by a whole lot,” he said.

Center said that Honda wants to tap into current Fit EV owners as a market channel. They like electric cars and range isn’t as much of an issue with them.

“These people want a battery car and they know what they do and where they go,” Center said. “They’re very rational and they don’t need to lug around or charge up a 300-mile-range battery because that costs them electricity.”

Honda had been criticized in the past for keeping the Fit EV in limited volumes and marketing spend, focused in California with its zero emission vehicle mandate. Adding an 80-mile range Clarity may draw a comparison.

Honda is betting that its three-prong approach to manufacturing and marketing the Clarity will be a winner for the company. Customers wanting to drive a green car that runs on less emissions than traditional engine sedans have three technologies to choose from.

Automotive News


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