Belated: Honda’s EV program

The electric vehicle movement seems to have become somewhat of a juggernaut – with Volvo, BMW, and Subaru focusing on development of electric vehicles, some of them based on their existing models. And now, introducing the new kid in town.

Japanese car maker Honda has been somewhat hesitant where EV’s are concerned, eventually offering the Clarity EV with a questionably short range of only 80 miles. This puts it in the same ballpark as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, although with a more premium appearance, the Honda Clarity EV should sell somewhat better.

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell. Source: Inhabitat

This isn’t the only EV to be based on another car, of course. Even the famous Nissan LEAF, while developed from the ground up, uses a derivative of the Nissan B Platform. This platform is used in the current Pulsar, and can be found in countless Nissan, Renault, Datsun, and Dacia models. Which is what should be done with a vehicle platform.

Back on subject though.

Late as they have left it, Honda is dedicating an undisclosed portion of it’s USD$7,000,000,000 R&D budget to development of EVs. On top of this, the Japanese automaker is also forming a joint venture with Hitachi Automotive Systems that will be developing motors for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric car. Hitachi Automotive Systems is, of course, a supplier to several major automakers, including Toyota, Ford, and Volkswagen.

Honda spent most of the early stages of the EV revolution sitting on their hands, but now aims to join in the party, a bit like that guy that RSVPs “no” and then turns up on the night. Hopefully this isn’t a wedding crash, as that could make things awkward for Tesla and Lucid, but we will see.

Honda will be unveiling a new EV based on a dedicated platform later this year at the Frankfurt Motor Show, according to Auto Express. This means that Honda is at least acting serious, although GM currently doesn’t seem serious about it, despite having put in similar efforts with the Bolt. Knowing Japanese car makers though, Honda probably isn’t playing around here.

The Clarity, despite it’s mediocre range, delivers 161 HP and 221 ft-lb of torque. Power is provided by 25.5kWh lithium battery pack mounted towards the rear of the car under the floor. This is largely because it is essentially the Fuel Cell version with a battery pack instead of a fuel cell. The car can plug in and charge in about 2.5 hours, which is 90 minutes faster than a Chevrolet Volt.

Honda hasn’t yet revealed it’s complete plan for EVs, but the company has stated that by 2030, two thirds of all new cars will be some form of EV. This suggests a massive shift for the company, especially with the amount of time that it takes to develop a new car. The company is planning to offer Level 4 autonomous driving by 2025. They have already been talking to Waymo about this, so they realise they are playing catch-up in that area.

When Honda brings their luxury brand, Acura, into the fold, they will find themselves competing with EV veteran Tesla Inc. and, hopefully, Menlo Park startup Lucid Motors. This will be an issue for Acura’s RLX premium luxury sedan or its electric replacement.

Overall, Honda is trying to wedge its way into an already hotly-contested sector, which plays host primarily to Tesla in the luxury market, and Nissan at the affordable end of the market. I have no doubt that Honda will eventually produce a competitive electric vehicle, but the Clarity Electric just isn’t it without a significant range boost.

So what do you think? Is the Clarity Electric a competitive EV, or is it just going to fade and die as other car makers leave it in the dust? Will Honda even survive the electric revolution? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe and share.