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Honda to unveil Clarity variants in New York

Current Fuel Cell car will be joined by electric and plug-in hybrid

Honda Clarity teaser

Nearly 10 years after introducing the FCX Clarity, first fuel-cell vehicle available to the public, Honda is expanding the line with electric and plug-in hybrid models, to be introduced at April’s New York International Auto Show.

The Clarity is now in its second generation (unveiled last year as a 2017 model), available to the public since the end of last year. No timeline has been announced for the two new members to the Clarity lineup but they’re both due in 2017, with the full electric model coming first, followed by the plug-in, which is expected to be the volume leader of the line.

The flagship of Honda’s sustainable motoring solutions, the mid-sized 5-seat Clarity will thus be set up to more effectively challenge Toyota’s Prius for electrification domination in the mainstream market. The company has set 2030 as the target for having two thirds of its sales worldwide come from electrified vehicles.

The company released a teaser sketch that shows the noses of the three cars, with the current Clarity Fuel Cell flanked by the Electric version and the Plug-In Hybrid. Although the three look identical at first blush, the teaser sketch seems to point to different grille treatments.

The current car has a mesh grille with a chrome accent line that runs along its lower edges from the top of the LED headlights. The Plug-In seems to have a wider chrome portion covering the upper portion of the grille, stretching down about halfway down the H in the logo. The Electric seems to have the grille completely covered by a body-colour piece, which seems par for the course for EV design since they don’t really need fresh air supplied to an engine.

No other images were released, though the accompanying text says the spacious interiors will be “outfitted with premium, environmentally-responsible materials,” and the chassis will return the type of “fun to drive” characteristics on which Honda prides itself.

Honda did not divulge information on regions for distribution — the Clarity Fuel Cell is only available in California (and most of the current public cars are in southern Cal), because that’s the only region with public hydrogen refuelling infrastructure). The Plug-In Hybrid will be available throughout North America, as expected, and reportedly be able to travel about 65 km on electricity alone.

We would assume the electric version will also be available to whoever wants it throughout the continent, but no word from either Honda or Honda Canada (which had confirmed sales of the Plug-In at January’s Montreal International Auto Show).

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