Honda Launching New Alternative Fuel Line

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When Honda launches its Clarity fuel-cell electric car late this year, the alternative fuel vehicle will be an only child. But not for long. Honda says it will add two siblings to its new Clarity family lineup in 2017, a battery-electric car and a PHEV, or plug-in hybrid.

The automaker’s conventional hybrids will keep the same nameplate as their standard gasoline cousins, so the 2017 Accord midsize sedan lineup, for instance, will include the new Accord Hybrid.

By using the Clarity brand to group together its more advanced alternative fuel vehicles, Honda is hoping to improve their visibility. It also will be able to more clearly market them as “ultra-low carbon vehicles,” says John Mendel, American Honda’s executive vice president. This will bring down car insurance prices for these Hybrid cars a little also.

Toyota sells several hybrid models under the Prius nameplate, and Hyundai has said it will offer conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery-electric powertrains in it its new Ioniq line.

Honda expects the Clarity PHEV to be the alt-fuel trio’s volume model. The Clarity fuel-cell electric, or FCEV, initially will be sold only in a few California locations. That’s because that’s the state where almost all of the nation’s retail hydrogen stations are located. the Northeast is the next target as their is a drive to install hydrogen fueling stations there.

The Clarity battery-electric likely will be sold at first in California and select other states that have actively promoted battery-electric vehicles (BEV) for air quality reasons.

Honda hasn’t offered pricing or other information about the Clarity BEV and PHEV models, except to say that styling will differ slightly. All the Clarity models will share the same five-passenger, front-wheel drive, hatchback sedan platform.

The Clarity FCEV is expected to be priced at about $500 a month to lease or $60,000, before incentives, to purchase.

Right now the available financial incentives for fuel-cell electric vehicles are a federal income tax credit of up to $8,000 it and a California clean air vehicle cash rebate of $5,000.

Honda’s pricing would keep the Clarity FCEV competitive with Toyota’s Mirai FCEV sedan and Hyundai’s Tucson fuel-cell crossover , which lease for $499 a month – including free fuel. Toyota sells Mirai for $57,500 before incentives and any factory or dealer discounts. Hyundai only but leases the Tuscson FCEV.