Honda’s been cautious with bringing full electric and autonomous vehicles to the market; however, now their Clarity trio is complete, with the new 2017 Clarity Electric and the 2018 Clarity Plug-in Hybrid joining the existing Clarity Fuel Cell car. Fully Autonomous vehicles are right around the corner.
Honda held a test drive event last weekend for the all-electric version of their Clarity vehicle platform and it answered a few questions on what to expect.
The Clarity EV will be available as a compliance vehicle in California and Oregon, in “select dealerships” starting August 1st.
The range is approximately 89 miles. The car also comes with DC charging standard.
The Honda’s power numbers seem respectable, with a 120kW, 161 hp motor, and 221 ft-lb. of torque.
The car also includes CarPlay and Android Auto, and “Honda Sensing” safety and driver assist features.
The Clarity EV is capable of level 1, 2 and 3 charging. On level 1, a standard 120v outlet, a full battery charge will take about 19 hours. On level 2, which is the recommended home charging mode, a full charge will take about 3 hours. On level 3 DC charging, you’ll be able to reach 80% in about 30 minutes.
For their part, Honda is happy with the range number because they wanted to “differentiate” the EV from other vehicles in the Clarity line. The EV version of the car is “a niche car for a niche customer.” For those customers who do not need long range, they wanted to offer a battery which is properly sized for their needs.
Honda also recently previewed their autonomous car technology expected to be implemented by 2020.
Demonstrated in an Acura RLX sedan, the system allowed its driver to shift into self-driving mode with the push of a button on the steering wheel as it lapped Honda’s high-speed oval track in that mode, automatically changing lanes to pass slower cars at speeds of 60 mph.
The technology incorporates two cameras, five lidar sensors and five millimeter-wave radar systems.
Honda is aiming for Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level 4 autonomy. The SAE defines autonomous driving in six levels, from Level 0 to Level 5. Level 4 allows for autonomous driving most of the time, but with exceptions or situations like bad weather, where a human driver may be asked to retake control.
The second self-driving vehicle Honda displayed used an Accord Hybrid to demonstrate Honda’s vision for city driving and Level 4 autonomy. It included a steering wheel and pedals, but allowed the driver to be completely disengaged while the car traveled to its destination. It hopes to have cars that can drive themselves nearly all of the time in production by 2025.
They are not envisioning a vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals. The driver is there, but does not have to drive the entire time. If it is fun for the driver, they can control the vehicle on their own. For the rest of the time, they can be free.