The Future is Clear For Honda Clarity

    Posted by Car Reviews by Rob Davidson about 10 months ago
     Let's be clear: the Clarity is a fine car. But it ain't cheap.

    The latest EV from Honda has three different methods of propulsion: the plug in hybrid version (which I drove) , a fuel cell version and a full-on electric iteration. Honda says the Clarity is the car it’ll use to shoehorn EV’s into the showrooms and driveways of North America. They want two thirds of all their sales worldwide to be electric vehicles by 2030.

    That’s a tall order

    But , then again , Honda has a history of leading rather than following. They were the first to introduce hybrid electric cars to Canada with the Insight , an awkward little two-seater that lurched its way into the hearts of early adopters everywhere (I drove it , liked it and would never have considered buying it). The Clarity is the Insight writ large and after driving the plug in hybrid I’m impressed.

    Five Seater

    First of all it is a large car , big enough to carry five passengers if the poor sap in the middle of the rear seat doesn’t mind a little back ache. Those seats , in keeping with the Clarity’s overall environmental stance , are made from plant based and recycled materials. It also has a reasonably large trunk space because the battery for the electric motors has been moved from the rear of the car to the middle under the floor.

    All Electric (Almost) All The Time

    The Clarity in ALL of it’s iterations is an electric car. The wheels turn because they’re connected to electric motors. Yet in the hybrid version the engine compartment contains a gasoline engine. A small (1.5 ltr) Atkinson cycle gasoline engine which powers an electric generator that can either charge the battery or directly run those electric motors that move the wheels. However the car can also run exclusively on battery power for about 70 kilometres or 40 miles. Honda claims that’s enough power for most errands for the majority of  North American families.
    That wasn’t the case for me.

    Range Anxiety?

    Because I live out in the country I’m about 25 klics from the nearest large town. So 50 kilometres there-and-back. Which means (on a good day) there is barely enough battery power to make the round trip and accomplish a couple of chores somewhere in the middle. Also I was driving the car in the dead of winter so I had both the heater and the electric seat warmers going full blast so my range was even shorter.

    I wasn’t worried however , because I knew I had the gasoline engine. 
    The first time it came on I thought there was something wrong with the car. While running exclusively on the battery power the only sound I heard was tire and wind noise. And the radio. As soon as the gasoline motor came on I thought there was something wrong with the car. The sound was deafening. Except it wasn’t.

    It was loud….ish , yes. But any self respecting SUV is a lot louder. In fact when I got used to it I had to remind myself to listen for the tell tale  “BRRRRRR” of the engine when the battery power ran out.

    No Fuel Like An Old Fuel

    I was also surprised at how quickly I used up fuel. The needle on the gas gauge seemed to be almost free-falling toward the “empty” mark. Until I went to refill the tank. The Clarity’s gas tank is TINY…like , 26 litres tiny. At the half empty mark I had to pay for about 12 litres of fuel. And that was after approximately 400 kilometres of driving. 
    So the little four banger Atkinson engine is incredibly fuel efficient. When I returned the car to Honda I figured out I was using 4.8 ltrs of gasoline to go 100 kilometres.

    So: a very comfortable car , a good looking car , a clever and seamless integration of  hybrid and internal combustion technologies. 
    But as I said at the beginning of this review the car is not cheap: the base model is approximately $39,900 and the Touring version is approximately $43,900. You'll want to nose around for government rebates.

    Tags:
    Electric vehicles , EV , Honda , Hybrid , Atkinson Engine , Clarity,

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