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No Clarity for Honda Australia’s vision

Clear as day: Honda will add an EV and PHEV version of the Clarity FCV to its United States line-up from 2017.

Honda Australia has Clarity on new EVs being nowhere near our horizon

Honda logo23 Apr 2016

By STUART MARTIN

HONDA’S green credentials will be bolstered in the United States market by the addition of a battery-powered electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid version of its Clarity hydrogen model in 2017, but Australia seems an unlikely destination for the trio.

The US arm of the Japanese car-maker will launch the two new Clarity variants following the hydrogen model’s launch late this year, with a target lease price of $US500 ($A645) a month for the fuel-cell version.

American Honda Motor Company said the addition of two new Clarity variants, based on the same platform as the new Clarity FCV, made it the first vehicle in the industry to offer fuel-cell, electric and plug-in hybrid technology on one platform.

The Clarity Electric goes on sale Stateside in 2017, while the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, which launches later in 2017, is expected to be the volume seller.

Honda says the plug-in has an all-electric driving range in excess of 60km with a “hyper-efficient” petrol-hybrid extended range function.

Honda Australia group public relations manager Neil McDonald said the Clarity EV and PHEV – likely left-hand drive-only propositions – was not part of the company’s plans for Australia.

“You’d have to look at the EV and hybrid take-up, which is low,” he said. “A car of the calibre of Clarity, you would need a very strong business case for it even be considered for Australia, at this point we’re not going to be focusing on it.”

Mr McDonald said the conversations were ongoing with government authorities to improve the chances of legislated incentives for such vehicles, which are currently burdened with “significant impediments”.

“That conversation is something I imagine the FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries) is having with Canberra. The Honda technology is pretty impressive, but unlike other countries where there are legislative incentives for these vehicles, Australia is not in a position to offer those incentives here. We have a long way to go to have a clear vision on what Australia wants to do.” Honda’s new tenth-generation Civic range, due in sedan guise in June, no longer includes any hybrid offerings, with the focus now on the smaller turbocharged petrol powerplants, leaving the slow-selling Accord Sport Hybrid as the sole remaining hybrid vehicle.

“Accord Hybrid is still part of the range. Those vehicles are important to tell the technology story of our brand and we’ll look at showcasing those technologies in the future.

“The Accord Sport Hybrid is the only hybrid. There’s no hybrid with the new Civic, there’s an efficient 1.5-litre turbo coming in that, and there’s no Civic hybrid coming in the new range.

“The broader story is the technology story. Some may not end up in Australia but they are fundamental to show where the brand is going,” he said.

Honda Australia director Stephen Collins told journalists last month that the Accord Hybrid was “unlikely” to remain in Honda’s local line-up in to the future following slow response and buyer indifference.

Honda is aiming to grow its global sales of electrified vehicles – hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles – to account for two-thirds of its vehicles sales by around 2030.

The next hybrid to be added to the Australian line-up will be the NSX hybrid supercar that is expected later this year.

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