The Dawn of Honda’s Electric Vehicle and Fuel Cell Future
It wasn’t long ago we wondered how Honda would pull off its ambitious goals in reducing emissions without much in the way of electric vehicles in its product lineup. At the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, we got the clearest look to date at the automaker’s future and how much of it is actually reliant on EV technology. Between an electric car powered by hydrogen fuel cells, a PHEV that beats the range of the original Chevy Volt, and plug-in bike concepts, Honda has some very green designs for the short term.
After delays in delivering a production model of the company’s second fuel cell vehicle, the Clarity Fuel Cell made its global debut in Tokyo on October 28. Offering an increase in power output along with a reduction in size of the fuel stack, this production model is the answer to the Toyota Mirai. Honda says internal testing delivered a range of 435 miles (700 km) for the sedan that will begin lease sales in Japan, as of March 2016, at the cost of $63,000.
According to a company statement, Honda said it will begin sales to governments and business customers for the first year before expanding sales to individuals in Japan and, finally, customers in the U.S. and Europe by 2017. Like other fuel cell vehicles, filling the hydrogen tank should take less than five minutes and offer several hundred miles of range.
Also on the stand in Tokyo was the EV Cub Concept, a short-range electric bicycle that can recharge using regular power outlets in the home. By moving the battery pack to the area below the seat, the low center of gravity should provide for a better riding experience that delivers environmentally as well. The range of the EV Cub was not disclosed. While these models attracted attention indoors, Honda offered the first look at a promised plug-in hybrid sedan on a local track.
Honda announced it was working on a plug-in hybrid sedan and a pure electric vehicle for 2017 at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show, and the first glimpse of the PHEV came in Tokyo in the final week of October. According to Autoblog’s Sebastian Blanco, who drove the powertrain in the body of an Accord, engineers are targeting a range of 40 miles for the future PHEV. (The low-volume Accord plug-in featured 13 miles of electric range.)
Most significantly, the Clarity Fuel Cell and 2017 plug-in hybrid will share the same chassis, which will allow Honda to save money when adapting models for various markets, Autoblog reports. The potential for basing the EV on the same platform exists as well. With an electric range slightly greater than the original Volt, drivers could cover about 80% of trips without gasoline, as research has showed Volt drivers do.
Of the many newsworthy green vehicles Honda showcased in Tokyo, only the Clarity Fuel Cell is a production model as it will appear in America. (An intriguing Odyssey Hybrid minivan was on display, but is planned only for Japan at the moment.) But the seeds of a new product lineup have already been planted. Between a fuel cell vehicle, a long-range PHEV, and an electric car that could share the same chassis, Honda’s upcoming generation of automobiles will be its greenest yet.
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