Honda heads to New York with 2017 Clarity electric car trio

 

 

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2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Photo Attributions Parks McCants 2017

It’s good to have choices, and that’s what Honda offers discerning auto industry insiders and consumers at 2017 N.Y.I.A.S. This week in New York City, ¬†Honda debuts a trio of 2017 Clarity electric cars, more electrification choices than any other mainstream auto manufacturer on the planet.

With great buzz surrounding the showing of the first Type-R to wear the Honda label in New York, as well as the Civic Si duo, a bit of air may be let out of the bag that is the advancement of Honda electrification.

Currently, as reported by yours truly at Honda-Torque News, 2017 Clarity currently drives the streets of California as a lease-only hydrogen fuel cell generated stand alone electric car.  I recently drove Clarity FCV on the streets of Santa Barbara. Loved it!

Clarity FCV, BEV or plug in hybrid

Honda public relations tells us that they anticipate the 5-passenger 4-door 2017 Clarity plug-in hybrid sedan to be the best seller in this trio. With internal combustion charge-co generation, and extended plug-in electric only drive range (estimated 40 + miles,) Sedan or not, 2017 Clarity hybrid electric will be a Honda market sales leader.

Clarity BEV panned for 80 mile between charge drive range 

The two electric drive range extremes in the 2017 Clarity lineup is the 360 miles driven between 3-minute hydrogen refueling stop, and the stated 80 miles in-city drive range of the Clarity battery electric. Honda claims that previous Fit EV leasees have no problem with Clarity BEV range. Could be, I’ve yet to speak with a Fit electric fan.

As the market transitions back to large SUVs

There’s more than just a slight undercurrent sweeping a quickly transitioning auto market away from fuel efficient, sub compacts, compacts, and yes, entry level electric cars and crossovers. Although a slight uptick in electric vehicle sales was recorded in 2016, the general trend is consumers opting for gasoline motivated, relatively thirsty, premium or luxury SUVs. The bigger the better. Non the less, Honda takes the long view while embracing the sustainable future of auto-electrification.

2017 Acura MDX hybrid and more

We recently drove 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid and walked away smiling, despite a torrential downpour.  Honda talks of adapting the Clarity platform for light truck duty,perhaps Honda fans will see a hybrid Pilot in the not too distant future, perhaps.

 

2017 Chevy Bolt Brings Mainstream Appeal to Electric Vehicle Segment

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Parks McCants drives the streets and countryside of San Francisco in 2017 Chevy Bolt.

I recently experienced Chevrolet’s exceptional 5-door Bolt hatchback on the outback surrounds and streets of San Francisco. Within miles of entering Chevy’ s latest offering in the ever evolving electric car universe, I forgot ¬†I was driving a battery motivated electric vehicle.

That’s the beauty of 2017 Chevy Bolt, with a stated 230 + mile drive range between charging cycles, range anxiety quickly becomes a non issue. But Bolt’s appeal is much more than extended drive range. Chevy Bolt drives, rides, and feels like a conventional gasoline engine compact hatchback. The brakes, while regenerative, transmit natural hydraulic – like pedal feel back to the driver’s foot. The steering wheel road to driver input, although electric, feels natural, responsive, and easy.

Nice uptick interior finish 

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2017 Chevy Bolt EV brings a refined interior to the compact EV segment.

Chevy Bolt’s rather pleasant interior is exceptionally comfortable. The driver’s seat was firm, form holding, but not too restrictive. Bolt’s thin profile, foam filled power adjusted driver’s seat, handled my 6 foot 5 inch frame with ease, as did the rear bench. Surprisingly, the compact electric hatchback affords comfortable seating for 4 adults. Yes, 5 can fit in a pinch. With the second row 40/60 split bench folded, one discovers a near flat cargo platform, plenty of transformer-like space back here.

On the downside, visibility through the rear hatch is limited, especially with passengers on board. No worries, in top trim Chevy employs a rear cam that double duties as Bolt’s rear view mirror. It takes a moment to get used to, yet, it works well.

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2017 Chevy Bolt offers impressive hatchback utility.

As I ran my eyes and hand over Bolt’s interior finish and exterior body line, I was taken by how refined Chevy’s answer to a mainstream, long range, affordable electric hatch truly is. As to the drive, I was a bit blown away by the instant-on torque experienced behind the wheel of Bolt, as we navigated the crazy-steep streets of San Francisco. My companion mentioned roller coasters, that it was. Take-off and throttle hesitation is non existent in Bolt EV.

Freeway cruising is a pleasure

2017 Chevy Bolt, due to its inherent, battery module placement low center of gravity, handles road-sticky through the sweeps, with a larger, cushier car feel, when running at freeway speeds. Passing is effortless, seamless if you will. For those who have never experienced an electric car, the drive dynamic of Chevy Bolt is quite unique, pleasant and down right addictive.

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2017 Chevy Bolt features the longest between charge driving range in the segment.

On completion of our 6 hour drive circuit, 135 miles remained on the electric range minder. Astounding! Believe me, I didn’t baby 2017 Chevy Bolt.

In conclusion: If you were to ask me what I’d change in Bolt, at this juncture, nothing. Dollar for dollar, when I compare 2017 Chevy Bolt to any Battery Electric Car on the market today, when it comes to affordable electric car access, utility and extended drive range, Bolt wins, hands down. For more information on availability and MSRP, read my first drive impression recap at Torque News.

Auto Press leaks 2017 Clarity Battery Electric Range, Not Long

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Although not substantiated by the maker, experts anticipate 80 miles between charge cycles for Clarity BEV

As announced Monday morning by Automotive News, E.V. enthusiast looking to Honda for extended battery electric vehicle range, will be a bit disappointing by Clarity BEV. (Battery Electric Vehicle)

In a recent interview with American Honda, Automotive News was informed¬†that the Clarity platform battery electric follows the example set by the no longer available in the U.S. Fit E.V. — with an approximate 80 mile drive range before requiring recharging. ¬†O.K., I was anticipating a bit more!

Will short-range kill the market for Honda’s battery electric Clarity platform variant?

Frankly, I believe when looking to the recently formed hydrogen development alliance between Honda and General Motors, the maker has dedicated facility and resources to the development and marketing of compressed hydrogen fuel cell electric cars. I take a closer look at 2017 Clarity FCV here.

With the 230 mile range Chevy Bolt coming on-line at well under $38,000, before tax incentives, and Tesla shooting for 2018 manufacturing and delivery of the Tesla 3, outside of the hardcore Honda EV loyal, there is little market for Clarity BEV.

Clarity to come in 3 variants

Hydrogen Fuel Cell, Plug-in Hybrid, and Battery Electric

At this point in time it’s nearly impossible to measure what’s¬†referred to as the “white space” in a rapidly expanding and ever-developing E.V. market. The viable future of the electric car rests with battery density, and the manufacturing volume capacity of an emerging battery industry.

In a recent report from automaker Tesla, it’s¬†revealed that battery module cost was 60% of what it was just 5 years earlier. That’s a step in the right direction as auto manufacturers mainstream electrification of personal conveyance. Who will take the immediate lead in the market mainstreaming of the E.V.?

As of this writing the #1 engine manufacturer in the world is Honda — that’s the internal combustion engine. No company has done more to develop and market low to no emissions

I.C.E, and certainly Honda demonstrates market viable applications of electric motors in the NSX supercar, and the now on the highway Clarity FCEV.

At its base core, Clarity Fuel Cell is an electric vehicle. Clarity Battery Electric, for now I’ll take a wait and see position as to the market viability of Honda’s 80 mile range electric. Read my latest take on the Clarity BEV here.