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2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Kicks Off Electrification Spree

Car shoppers looking for an alternative to gasoline power will have a variety of options to consider from Honda in the next two years, starting this spring with the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid.

By 2030, the automaker expects two-thirds of its global sales to be of fuel-efficient, low-emissions electrified vehicles, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric and fuel-cell vehicles. The hybrid Accord starts the roll out, followed by a line of Clarity sedans to include a fuel-cell later this year and an all-electric and plug-in hybrid in 2017.

First Up

After a year hiatus, the new hybrid is similar to the redesigned Accord but with unique blue lighting. It features the same technology upgrades, like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Honda Sensing, as well as a suite of advanced safety and driver-assist features, such as lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning.

Powered a new two-motor hybrid, it is expected to deliver 49 miles per gallon in city driving, making it the most fuel efficient in the 2017-hybrid class and the most powerful with 212 horsepower.

The Japanese-built hybrid will be more widely available as eliminated manufacturing bottlenecks and parts shortages that plagued the last one have been eliminated. The company plans to more than double sales (14,000 in 2014). No price has been announced, but Honda said it will be in the range of 2015 model that started at about $30,000.

Gaining Some Clarity

In late 2016, a new model, a midsize 5-passenger sedan called Clarity, goes on sale. Think of Clarity the same as the Accord or Civic — a model with the same body but different powertrain systems.

The first Clarity will be a fuel-cell version. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells generate electricity to power an electric motor, producing no emissions. Honda sees fuel cells as the ultimate solution to energy and environmental concerns because they are not petroleum dependent or polluting.

Clarity’s new fuel-cell stack has 60 percent more power density and is a third smaller than the one in the outgoing Honda FCX Clarity, making it the size of a V6 engine that fits entirely under the hood of the car. It goes on sale by year-end in select California markets where hydrogen-fuel stations are located. The car goes 300 miles on a fill-up, taking 3 to 5 minutes. It will be offered for lease, at about $500 per month.

In 2017, the next Clarity goes on sale initially in California as an all-electric version. No price has been announced, but the company says it will be the first “affordable” midsize, 5-passenger battery-electric vehicle with premium features. By the end of 2017, consumers in all 50 states will be able to buy a Clarity plug-in hybrid, the expected volume leader of the Clarity line. The car promises an impressive all-electric driving range in excess of 40 miles — plenty for the typical North American commute — with an extremely efficient gasoline-hybrid engine to extend the range for long trips.

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