back to article Back to the future: Honda's new electric car can go an incredible 80 miles!

Honda's new electric car, the Clarity, is garnering a lot of attention – for all the wrong reasons. Available later this year, the car is expected to cost the same as the new Chevy Bolt and upcoming Tesla Model 3, but will have just a third of their ranges, managing only 80 miles on a full charge. While that would have been …

  1. Richard 12 Silver badge

    Seems foolish

    Something that short-ranged is a second car, not an only car.

    And that means cheap.

    The putative household has a "proper" car they use at weekends and for shopping, and the short-range electric is for the daily commute.

    If it costs as much as a long-range electric, nobody will buy it - better to buy the long range one as an only car.

    This is why G-Wiz, the Renault thing and the other "road-legal quad bike" things exist.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems foolish

      In fact, it seems you might just as well put a vintage Rolls-Royce body on a milkfloat. I can't think of anywhere we would take our larger car in preference to the small one that would be achievable with an 80 mile range especially as that's likely to be 60 in an English winter if you don't want to have to take a welder along to treat your brass monkeys.

      1. 404
        Pint

        Re: Seems foolish

        'brass monkeys'....

        BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAhahahaHAHAHA!

        -at the pub since before it opened... this ones on me ... brass monkeys... heh

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Seems foolish

      Something that short-ranged is a second car, not an only car.

      Presumably, that 80 mile figure assumes that you aren't running power-hungry accessories like heat or air conditioning, at the optimum ambient temperature for battery efficiency.

      In a cold winter or hot summer, you'd be shivering or sweating in your roomy "premium interior" as you try to eke out 40-50 miles...

      1. ricegf

        Re: Seems foolish

        I commute in a 2012 Leaf (first-gen modern electric frog with Clarity's range), and A/C cuts range by 5 miles or less even in Texas summer heat - even less if the cabin is pre-conditioned while still connected to the grid. It's resistive heating and the cold battery during both days of the Texas winter that cuts range by double digits. So yeah, for most people ready to go electric, a current-gen Bolt or Model 3 makes more sense unless you're saving a LOT of money! Even with its limited range, though, we love our Leaf for driving around town, and are considering a Tesla to replace our remaining gasoline car.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Seems foolish

      "the short-range electric is for the daily commute."

      not likely - typical commute involves a lot of "sitting in traffic" and on a nice hot day, your A/C is blasting [or on a cold one, the heater]. So after an hour of burning up the battery with 'accessory loads', you'll end up getting towed more often than not.

      This goes TRIPLE for Cali-Fornicate-You, where hour-long commutes are common, commute traffic is ALWAYS bad, and weather extremes at certain times of the year are guaranteed.

      Foolish indeed.

      (yeah they probably FELT that Cali-Fornicate-You residents are all a bunch of clueless greenies with 5 minute commutes and spare time to charge up the batteries on each end of every trip - ok SOME are, but not ME - I'll keep my dino-burner - It's an older mustang convertible, a LOT more fun!)

      1. CommodorePet

        Re: What about battery life

        California electric rates are also more expensive than most of the rest of the US, and come with the double whammy that the rate goes up (significantly) the more you use. Since charging an electric vehicle is an additional load, the economies here are not good (Los Angeles resident here). In Summer running the cooler can easily put the price per kilowatthour at 4x the base rate.

        The only way to mitigate that is to have an extra power meter installed that is just for the EV charger. That costs $2-3K, which would pay for a lot of dino-juice.

        80 miles would be out of the question here. Daily commute is OK, but if I need to drive to the airport (35 miles), park for a couple of days and then drive back, I'd be scr*wed.

  2. Snowy Silver badge
    Boffin

    Hydrogen fuel cells

    Hydrogen as a fuel is very poor when you consider the energy it takes to make it.

    A couple of papers about it, a little old but physics has not changed in 10 years

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a926/4199381/

    https://phys.org/news/2006-12-hydrogen-economy-doesnt.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

      Thanks for the article from Back-to-the-Future in 2006! Hydrogen as fuel is brilliant, and the cost/trouble to produce it will reduce over time. The only thing stopping it is finding a super efficient novel method for separating those lovely H atoms from the O in water. This is one of the first vehicles you can get with a fuel cell, so if you expect it not to suck, you will be sadly mistaken. Version 1.0 is usually a let down, unless you are an "early adopter" and are used to such things. Still, don't let us stop you from not getting past 2006 for your "latest info." I am looking forward to more of these vehicles and some hydrogen fuel stations to start popping up. It's a much better option than the current crop of electrics and hybrids, once the fuel is more generally available.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle

      Plus, this new Honda has TWICE the range of either of their Formula 1 cars built with McLaren! :P

      1. Chemist

        Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

        "The only thing stopping it is finding a super efficient novel method for separating those lovely H atoms from the O in water. "

        Thermodynamics !. No matter how efficient (and it isn't at the moment) there is a fixed energy required to do it of ~280kJ/mol. There is also an energy cost in either compressing it or liquifying it.

      2. Adam 1

        Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

        Hydrogen is not a fuel in the same sense as petroleum or diesel. There aren't any special rocks you can whack a drill into and slurp it out. Instead you find the atoms attached in other molecules. You then need to apply some energy to those molecules to break the bonds. When you burn that hydrogen in a fuel cell, you get some of that energy back. In other words, it is closer to a battery. You consume some energy to charge it up (create the H2) then consume it in your motor.

        And whilst you can do it from water, it is probably​ cheaper at scale to start with natural gas. There are two big problems with using natural gas for that. Firstly, it is far more energy efficient to just burn the gas itself. Secondly the waste CO2 kind of misses the point of replacing the internal combustion engine. That plus the fact it isn't renewable, that hydrogen is very hard to store, that it's energy density is rubbish and so requires liquefication (hugely energy intensive) and is way more expensive means it will never be a better fit in cars than batteries. It's only advantage over batteries is that you can get 300-500km range in a few minutes. There are other use cases where fuel cells do make sense, but not here.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

          Hydrogen, like batteries, isn't an energy source but an energy carrier. Oil is what you get when solar energy has split organic compounds into an oxidiser and a reducer; the oxidiser escapes into the air as oxygen and the reducer stays behind as a hydrocarbon.

          If hydrogen can be produced using solar energy, it's basically the same process but we have to organise the splitting. The question is whether it is better to use the solar energy to produce electricity which then separates oxidiser and reducer in a cell, or whether it's better to use it to split water. If you split water the oxidiser doesn't have to be carried around with you, you just use air directly.

          There's no real difference other than efficiency between burning oil to generate electricity to split the redox components in a battery, and burning some oil to extract the hydrogen from other oil.

          tl;dr: Other things being equal a fuel cell and a battery do the same job, but the battery vehicle has to cart around the oxidiser as well as the reducer. After that it all comes down to efficiency, first cost, service life etc. to determine the economics.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

            Right now, it is better to sell the solar electricity to the grid to reduce demand from fossil power stations, and put petrol/diesel in the car.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

        "Plus, this new Honda has TWICE the range of either of their Formula 1 cars built with McLaren!"

        Not quite true. They got one car home in Melbourne only 2 laps down.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

      "Hydrogen as a fuel is very poor when you consider the energy it takes to make it."

      The energy required to make it, i.e. separate it from the oxygen in water, is the energy that's stored in it as a fuel to be recombined with oxygen so this aspect doesn't really matter. What matters is the overall efficiency with which you can go through the entire cycle.

      But the issues raised in the articles are valid. It's difficult and potentially dangerous stuff to store and distribute and the overall environmental friendliness of it depends on that of the energy source.

      1. Chemist

        Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

        "The energy required to make it, i.e. separate it from the oxygen in water, is the energy that's stored in it as a fuel to be recombined with oxygen so this aspect doesn't really matter."

        If only this were so. There are inefficiencies in the process - esp. electrolysis where ( from memory only ~~50%-70%) of the input energy produces hydrogen. When combined with the need to compress or liquify the gas it looks pretty dire. As someone mentioned above making hydrogen from natural gas is the usual route but necessarily produces carbon dioxide from a finite resource

        People have mentioned "better catalysts" for the electrolysis process but catalysts only change the kinetics of a reaction NOT the thermodynamics.

        Now I'm fairly sure the long-term future of transport is going to have to include electricity either directly or as a source of energy for synthesis of a fuel but the thermodynamic requirements will always need to be met.

      2. breakfast

        Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

        From what I could follow, there is definite potential to use hydrogen to get energy from out-of-the-way renewable locations into power networks ( or cars or whatever ) when it is impractical to build massive powerlines. It may also make a good balancing medium to allow us to smooth out renewables production against demand. So there are certainly uses for it in terms of energy infrastructure and if it does fall into those usage scenarios then bringing it into usage as a regular fuel is not so far fetched.

        1. Jim84

          Re: Hydrogen fuel cells

          Everyone is correct in that hydrogen is expensive (and dangerous) to transport and store, with tanks and pipelines that need special coatings, and liquification taking large amounts of energy.

          Ammonia is a different story, as it is easily stored as a liquid at room temperature at mild pressures like propane. It has about half the energy per kg as petroleum.

          It is difficult to burn, but at the gas station hydrogen can be produced from it and mixed with ammonia to create a 2% hydrogen 98% ammonia mix that can be burnt in modified diesel engines.

          The real problem with it is where does the energy to make it come from? If it is from burning natural gas or coal then the whole exercise is pretty pointless. If it is from nuclear energy, then that works better, however for the process to be efficient you need a heat source greater than 540 degrees Celsius. Which is why the proposed molten salt reactors might fit the bill:

          www.energyfromthorium.com/2011/10/29/nuclear-ammonia/

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    1. Crazy Operations Guy
      Headmaster

      Re: Back to the Future needed 88MPH, not MPG.

      This car would technically get infinity miles per gallon as it doesn't use a gallon of anything...

      This car may very well be able to go 88 MPH (but couldn't keep that up for a full hour), the '80 miles' quoted in the article is the -range- that it has, not its top speed.

      1. Def Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Back to the Future needed 88MPH, not MPG.

        This car would technically get infinity miles per gallon as it doesn't use a gallon of anything...

        No brake fluid? Or washer liquid? Or air conditioner water? Or mini bar? I find that hard to believe. ;)

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    That's crap. My electric motorcycle has about 120 miles range, and it's barely able to get me to some of the places I want to go without charging.

    I wouldn't even bother looking at 80 miles. Don't forget that's a circle of only 40 miles radius since you have to get there and back.

    I can carry my car charging system, but that's 45lbs extra.

    Also, car charging is scarce in the US, and fuel cell hydrogen is non-existent, and will probably remain so, for the reasons Snowy lists.

    Musk realized battery costs were the limiting factor LONG ago, and started building the gigafactory to make cheap plentiful batteries.

    Why can't Honda think that big? Why are they thinking so small?

    "no automaker knows more about customers of electrified vehicles than Honda" - fucking SERIOUSLY? He said that with a straight face? Does he really NOT know about Tesla??

    1. Eddy Ito

      He, meaning the marketing droid who wrote it, clearly chose his words very carefully. First he was likely talking strictly about years since their first electric the EV Plus was released back in '97 and went through the release of the gen 1 Insight and they've had hybrid and/or EV models since while Tesla didn't exist until '03. Notice he also used the term "electrified" which I'm sure in marketing speak is meant to include hybrids. Yes around the same time as the EV Plus is when GM was doing the EV1 but then GM took a break from the "electrified" vehicle world for a bit and no doubt those years don't count for GM. In short they may actually have had customers of their "electrified" vehicles longer than the others even if the volumes aren't really comparable. If you go by miles driven then it's probably Toyota for "electrified" and Tesla for "electric".

  5. Crazy Operations Guy

    One of the factors I'd be interested in

    I'd be interested to see the overall environmental impact of electric cars versus standard petroleum based vehicles. Specially in terms of manufacturing and disposal impact. Yeah, an electric vehicle doesn't produce pollution -now- but what about disposing of the battery when its capacity wears down to nothing? What about all the by-products required to produce the battery in the first place?

    I'm not trying to troll or disparage the electric car idea, I'm just curious about the overall impact.

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

      The batteries are actually highly recyclable. See http://www.greenprogress.com/environment_article.php?id=1762

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

      First and foremost the environmental issues are different points in the manufacturing and use of the car. Overall, I suspect, if one is honest the net environmental problems are awash between ICE and electric cars. They will have different issues. One issue with EVs is the load they will put on the electric grid and is the grid resilient enough to handle it.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy

        Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

        "One issue with EVs is the load they will put on the electric grid and is the grid resilient enough to handle it."

        That is sort of my primary concern. Of course that would be highly variable. In a place like Shanghai where most of the electrons come from burning dinosaurs, the conversion losses from fuel-heat-steam-turbine-transformers-power lines-transforms-batteries-motor may actually make that EV require twice as carbon to be tossed in the air to move the same distance as a petrol-guzzling car. But then you might have a place like Reykjavik where the electrons are going to be from Hydro, so that EV is going to put a trivial amount of CO2 in the air compared to a standard car.

        What I'd really like to see is some kind of map done up that would show "Here are the areas that using an EV would produce more pollution than a standard car". Figure in all the energy costs and pollution generated from every step of a vehicle's life cycle (EG, manufacturing, shipping costs, daily use costs, disposal, maintenance, etc).

        I want to avoid a situation where I am not really helping the environment but rather just moving my pollution to some poor nation on the other side of the globe. Similar to the whole early hydrogen cell issue in that while the vehicle produces less pollution, the energy required to produce and transport the hydrogen in the cell ends up producing almost twice as much pollution.

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

          Back of the envelope calculation: In the UK there are about twenty million cars, doing perhaps 12,000 miles a year (okay, it's a conservative envelope; I do three or four times that but never mind), It seems to take about thirty or so horsepower to cruise at 70mph; call it 20kW. Maybe 15kW as an average? And a finger in the air 30mph as an overall average?

          So, 12,000 / 30 hours * 15kW * 20e6 = 120e12Wh - 120TWh. According to Wikipedia, the UK generates around 335TWh a year. Which implies that to move completely to electric cars, the UK would need to increase its generating capacity *and* all its distribution infrastructure by a minimum of 30% - and that doesn't even consider vehicles other than cars.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

            "perhaps 12,000 miles a year (okay, it's a conservative envelope; I do three or four times that but never mind)"

            I do 60-70,000 per year, but I know lots of neighbours who barely manage 20 miles per day on their commute, so 12,000 is probably a reasonable average.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

        > One issue with EVs is the load they will put on the electric grid and is the grid resilient enough to handle it.

        Electric vehicles - when parked at home - can conversely help to smooth the demand upon the grid, by using their batteries as local storage. It's a question of implementation. The mass manufacturing of Li-Ion cells for cars also brings down the cost of batteries for domestic or local power banks.

        I'm not saying you're wrong, but only that this is complex.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

          "Electric vehicles - when parked at home - can conversely help to smooth the demand upon the grid, by using their batteries as local storage."

          You could charge the battery off-peak which eases Neil's worry about generating capacity although the overall amount of power generated still increases as he says.

          But you seem to be implying that you could use the battery to store power for the home. You'd be a bit annoyed to get into your car and find it grind to a halt a few yards down the street because you'd just been using its battery to cook your breakfast.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

            > You'd be a bit annoyed to get into your car and find it grind to a halt a few yards down the street because you'd just been using its battery to cook your breakfast.

            As I said, it's a question of implementation. Say there were peak demands on domestic power a couple of hours after you have arrived home from work: there would be scope for reducing the peak loads on the grid by using your car battery. There would still be plenty of time to top up your car between midnight and seven am. Also, I suspect most people will have an EV with a range well in excess of their daily commute.

            The idea is to reduce the spikes in demand on the grid. And the spikes really are 'spikey'!

    3. Enniskillen

      Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

      While you are on the internet, why don't you look it up ? There is a plethora of information out there confirming that even with the need dor battery recycling, Electric cars are more environmentally friendly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

        "There is a plethora of information out there confirming that even with the need dor battery recycling, Electric cars are more environmentally friendly."

        And there is also information arguing the opposite, because this is the Internet and, like Borges's library, it contains both truth and falsehood.

        I remember a Scientific American article - now surely obsolete - which showed on a State by State basis which were the coal States and therefore in which electric vehicles were more polluting. It's a very localised thing. But you can't help noticing too that the simplest way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the US would be to drive smaller vehicles. A Tesla may output less carbon dioxide than another two and a half tonne car in a gas-fuelled State, but both of them emit far more per passenger mile than a Prius.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

        "Electric cars are more environmentally friendly."

        but only if you think that CO2 is "a pollutant". which it's not. [CO2 absorbs almost no infrared energy corresponding to normal earth temperatures, i.e. above about -50F, and so it cannot be causing any kind of warming greenhouse effects except maybe in Antarctica or during an ice age. Water, on the other hand...].

        gasoline is liquid energy, available for at least 50 to 100 years into the future, and it gives us MOBILITY. Inventing new ways of getting around is still good, of course, but don't delude yourself into thinking you're "saving the planet" by driving an electric car. If nothing else, they tend to emit "smug". heh.

        (a hybrid, on the other hand, makes more economic sense because of the mileage improvement and range of a normal dino-powered vehicle)

        My preference would be gas-turbine powered electric generators driving the motors and charging the batteries intermittently while you drive. THAT could be the best hybrid solution of them all. Gas turbines can run on diesel fuel, propane, alcohol, whatever (except maybe gasoline since it's probably too volatile).

        not sure why nobody's doing that... (maybe it makes too much sense?)

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

          "but only if you think that CO2 is "a pollutant". which it's not. [CO2 absorbs almost no infrared energy corresponding to normal earth temperatures, i.e. above about -50F, and so it cannot be causing any kind of warming greenhouse effects except maybe in Antarctica or during an ice age. Water, on the other hand...]."

          Science has known about the pass-thru and absorption effects of CO2 since long before we were looking at climate change/global warming or whatever. That's known, provable and demonstrable physics. It's not something recently "invented" by tinfoil hatters to fool you into paying for "green" initiatives. Whether or not you believe in AGW isn't even relevant here. It's basic science, not a spiritual belief.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    80mile range?

    Ok for local trips but anything else?

    Forget it.

    I drive a PHEV with 20 mile range but have an ICE engine to back me up.

    I have not put any petrol in the tank since Mothers day but there again I've not been anywhere more than about 8 miles from home in it since then.

    The nice sunny weather has allowed me to charge it for free thanks to the PV system on my roof.

    As for charging points... These are a joke. Operated by different companies with different connectors. CHADEMO, Type 2 or whaever. It is a minefield. To run an EV car, you have to sign up to at least two different Charging point operators.

    Going pure EV and going any distance from home unless you are driving a Tesla is a joke.

    Next year, the year after? Maybe.

    Oh, and your range is dependent upon the outside temperature. In winter it drops considerably. They don't tell you that.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: 80mile range?

      My PHEV - which I love dearly, for the tax benefits, if for no other reason - claims (mfr's numbers) a 30 mile range, from a 12 kWh battery which takes ~5 hours to recharge from a 13A domestic plug. I could spring several hundred pounds (net of government grant) for a 'fast' charger that delivers 16A (4 kW), but that still takes 3½ hrs from 'empty' and you can't do much better than that from a standard domestic supply.

      So if I bought a top end Tesla (100 kWh), how would I charge it in less than a day? It's fine if there's a Tesla 'supercharger' at the bottom of the road (i.e. you live in (parts of) London), but for me the nearest is 30 minutes away - and I'm not going to drive for an hour (plus 30 minutes for the actual recharging) every time the batteries get low. I guess the idea is that you top it up every day for short trips and for the occasional long trip you're almost certain to be passing a 'supercharger' at some point.

      But if that was my driving pattern (which it is), I'm not much better off than with my PHEV; plus I don't have any issues with 'range anxiety'. I expect there must be a Tesla owner on the forum who can put me right ...

      1. Jim Mitchell Silver badge

        Re: 80mile range?

        @chris miller

        "I could spring several hundred pounds (net of government grant) for a 'fast' charger that delivers 16A (4 kW), but that still takes 3½ hrs from 'empty' and you can't do much better than that from a standard domestic supply."

        From the Tesla web site, they have 3 home charging options: 40A @ 240V (9600KW), 48A @ 240V (11520KW), 72A @ 240V (17280KW). Refill of 300mile range is "5:47" with the 72A charging.

        Perhaps you need to raise your standards for your domestic electrical infrastructure?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 80mile range?

          "Perhaps you need to raise your standards for your domestic electrical infrastructure?"

          That takes us back to Neil Barnes's point. If this sort of car charging was to become universal then the infrastructure would need investment and that's not a decision for the individual motorist.

        2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: 80mile range?

          40A @ 240V (9600KW), 48A @ 240V (11520KW), 72A @ 240V (17280KW).

          The first two are 80% of the "budget" on a normal UK household install which is 65A fuse at delivery point. So you cannot run them and an electric shower or stove safely at the same time. The last one is above the normal UK electric supply. Other Eu countries are not much different. Depending on where you go domestic supply is standardized at 50-65A as well.

          Perhaps you need to raise your standards for your domestic electrical infrastructure?

          Maybe. If you buy a Tesla for most households in Europe you will need a new feed. You will need to order a proper 2 or 3 phase supply instead of the standard domestic single phase one.

          Thankfully Tesla is rare and is likely to remain such for the time being. If it stops being such, the grid will need a massive upgrade.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 80mile range?

          You have forgotten a decimal place in your maths, 40A@240 is 9.6KW or 9600W, 9600KW is the output of a small gas turbine power plant!

    2. kmac499

      Re: 80mile range?

      80 mile range is the school run or commute to the train station, neither of which requires a 'luxurious' vehicle.

      Compare the Honda to the Mahindra e2o, currently available for, after the govt subsidy, about £13k.for the basic model or £16k for the up market verion with the useful extra goodies. It looks quite cute as well.

      1. Commswonk

        Re: 80mile range?

        kmac999: 80 mile range is the school run or commute to the train station, neither of which requires a 'luxurious' vehicle.

        Entirely true, but to expand on a point in my previous post (apologies for the adjacent posts!) I'm far from certain that such use would be particularly wise in the winter. Quite apart from the vehicle occupants being cold (somewhat undesirable in itself) how is a purely electric car with limited range going to provide a draught of warm air to keep the windscreen clear of frosting (inside and out) and have enough power available to operate a rear window heater?

        To make matters worse normal respiration generates a lot of moist air which will freeze on the inside of the windscreen very easily, particularly overnight. I know that having a window slightly open can help but who is going to do that in the middle of winter in an unheated vehicle?

        Can any all - electric car owner enlighten me (us!) on this point? I genuinely don't know how this problem is managed.

        1. clanger9

          Re: 80mile range?

          @Commswonk good question, because it's not obvious from the manufacturer literature how they solve the "heating problem".

          I have a PHEV and it appears to have both a ~2kW heat pump and ~5kW resistive heating. The heat pump doubles up for air-conditioning duty in summer. Add in headlights, rear demist and heated seats and it can be pulling 8kW before it turns a wheel. That sounds like a lot, but it's still pretty small compared to the power needed to drive it along (max power on mine is 108kW, average is more like 20-30kW at speed).

          The heating system makes for a nice, toasty warm cabin in winter (you can even pre-heat the cabin before you set off if it's really cold), but it does reduce battery range. My car manages 40+ miles in the summer on battery power, but this will fall to 25 miles or so in the winter (on a 10.5kWh charge). All because of the heating system. Granted, I can put the system into "eco" mode to save energy, but hey life's too short...

          Different manufacturers seem to have different ways to solve the heating problem. I believe early Nissan Leafs only had resistive heaters, which aren't as efficient as a heat pump. I don't know how Tesla do it - they've got 85kWh+ to play with, so maybe heating efficiency is less of a concern...

    3. Commswonk

      Re: 80mile range?

      Anonymous Coward:

      Oh, and your range is dependent upon the outside temperature. In winter it drops considerably. They don't tell you that.

      And I daresay the inside temperature drops as well. I suspect they don't tell you that either.

      I also wonder if the "80 mile range" is continuous running; what is the range is under stop - start driving conditions? After all, acceleration requires more power than running at a steady speed and regenerative braking won't recover all of that additional demand.

    4. ricegf
      Facepalm

      Re: 80mile range?

      "As for charging points... These are a joke. Operated by different companies with different connectors. CHADEMO, Type 2 or whaever. It is a minefield. To run an EV car, you have to sign up to at least two different Charging point operators."

      *sigh* It pains me to see so many upvotes for a fundamentally flawed paragraph such as this (I say this gently and without intending offense). Here's the reality.

      Every single EV on the market today supports the standard connector used in that region - called J1772 in the USA and Mennekes in the UK and Europe. These are used for slower charging - overnight at home, at work, or at a destination such as a hotel or theatre.

      Every single EV on the market that supports rapid charging supports EITHER a fully compatible superset of the slower regional standard universally called the Combined Charging Standard (CCS), OR the older Japanese CHAdeMO standard. These are used for recharging in under an hour when traveling.

      Tesla also has their Supercharger network with proprietary connectors that only a Tesla vehicle can use, but a Tesla vehicle can certainly use the slower regional standard via an included adapter, and the CHAdeMO rapid standard via an available adapter - rather like a USB to USB-C charging adapter.

      So what do rapid charge stations do? Exactly what petrol pumps do - they support both standards! A petrol pump supplies gasoline (often in 3 grades) via one hose and diesel via the other. Rapid charge stations simply provide two connectors, one for CCS and the other for CHAdeMO. It's impossible to plug the wrong connector into your car, unlike putting the wrong grade of gasoline into your car - or worse, a diesel truck!

      BTW, I only belong to one charging network: EVgo. I've never needed any other membership to roam the DFW Metroplex, which is about twice the size of Northern Ireland, in my first-generation 80 mile range Leaf. All of their local stations support both CHAdeMO (used by my Leaf) and CCS. Your Membership May Vary. But yes, just accepting a credit card like the petrol pumps would be a definite step in the right direction as well. Just give it a little time. :-)

      Hope this clears up the confusion about a "minefield" that is actually somewhat simpler than drivers currently face in petrol-fueled vehicles.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: 80mile range?

        "These are used for recharging in under an hour when travelling."

        How much under? That's like saying I'd have to spend "under" two hours or "under three hours" additional time on a long journey recharging when I'd need at most one fill of the tank of petrol taking a few minutes. In turn that implies that motorway service stations would have to have many times the number of charging points compared to the number of petrol pumps if such short-range vehicles became the norm.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 80mile range?

      "To run an EV car, you have to sign up to at least two different Charging point operators."

      Sometimes the free market is trumped by proper regulation and this seems to be a case in point. It's not as if the motor industry doesn't have decades of experience of building cars with standard "charging ports" that work pretty much the world over.

  7. The Serpent

    If they used yesterday's ranges to lower the cost such that you got an actual car (instead of something like a Twizy) for 7 or 8 grand (with no battery "hire") I think they'd be on to something

  8. Mad Hacker

    I own a 2014 Honda Civic CNG...

    I bought a 2014 Civic CNG new when I heard Honda was abandoning CNG as a fuel. The 2014 was the last CNG Civic they made. I got the last one available in Arizona, possibly the country. I had been driving a 2000 Civic GX (CNG) up to that point. That was also the point that I gave up on Honda having a meaningful vision. They moved away from CNG (a proven technology) to hydrogen and now an 80 mile electric. I am looking carefully at the Bolt and the Model 3. Things are only going to get cheaper and longer range and we are right on the tipping point. It's actually pretty exciting if you care about cars (or possibly oil or the environment.) My commute is 66 miles round trip. That's pretty close to 80 assuming I have to make a stop anywhere outside my normal route say to the cleaners or a grocery store. Then there are the summers here with regular highs of 115° F (47° C) and above. I have a feeling an electric car with an A/C set to fight off 115° F heat probably won't get it's maximum range.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I own a 2014 Honda Civic CNG...

      HAHA! This car is NOT for you. You live in Arizona. You live in the desert. You get air conditioning in your car by the snipers putting bullet holes in it. Grow up. I have a hard time imagining a hydrogen fuel station anywhere in the desert, before we get them in the city. Wait your turn, or just keep using natural gas and stop bothering us in the modern world, grandpa.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are they sure this isn't an enclosed scooter?

    Honda been a bit delusional for the last decade. I have nothing against fuel cells except the fact they're not economical.

    So far only the electric + gas engine vehicle is mildly tempting.

    I'm rooting for Tesla because they're trying to stick it to the dealers. But, that doesn't mean I'll buy one...

  10. Andy Non Silver badge
    WTF?

    Even if 40 miles out and back trips cover 95% of your journeys

    what do you do for the other 5%? Hire a car for other journeys? Spend a fortune on a taxi? 80 miles total is far too limiting. Surely there are very few people with 100% of their journeys within an 80 miles range?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Even if 40 miles out and back trips cover 95% of your journeys

      Yes, as noted at the start of this thread a full cost full size 80 mile vehicle is probably a no-no. Because it would still need another full-size conventional car for most journeys >40 miles ( actually 30 to give a safe margin).

      Add to this that in dense urban populations areas where this would be most useful ( everything is close) there will be fewer private chargers, because there is much less private off-street parking. It's not easy to charge a car when you arrive home from a terraced house in Finchley or a block of flats in Salford.

    3. Jonathon Green

      Re: Even if 40 miles out and back trips cover 95% of your journeys

      Ooooh! I know the answer to this one!

      The occasional gig with my band in Stratford means one stop at Birchanger services on the way home for a cup of coffee I generally need by that point anyway, dropping Youngest Son off at college in Canterbury means one stop each way at Thurrock (which is a mild PITA on the outward leg but I'm generally about ready for on the way back), and driving up to my Mum's place in Yorkshire requires one extra stop on top of the break for lunch we'd have anyway. Whitby however requires borrowing my son's BMW Z4 because North Yorkshire doesn't do the 21st century and the Note loaner offered by the local Nissan dealer was strangely unappealing in comparison with a six cylinder, 225BHP convertible roadster...

      So the answer, somewhat to my own surprise is that in 18 months and 22,000 miles there has only been one occasion when an 80-ish mile range has been anything more than a mild inconvenience. Not by any means saying it works for everybody (your geography, choice of destination, availability of rapid charge infrastructure, and patience may vary...) but it turns out to be considerably more useful here in my corner of rural-ish Essex than I would have ever expected. I don't think Honda are necessarily wrong on this one, I do however think they're going to have an uphill task persuading people...

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Even if 40 miles out and back trips cover 95% of your journeys

      "what do you do for the other 5%?"

      Have real second car of course.

  11. DrXym Silver badge

    The Clarity is a strong contender for the ugliest car ever invented. Bad enough as a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle but even worse when shipped as an electric vehicle with an abysmal mileage.

    Who would ever want this car with an 80 mile range. A Tesla model S can do several hundred miles, and other new cars boast 120+ miles plus. This thing looks like it was deliberately sent out to die.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think the i3 has to be the ugliest. The two-tone ones look like a kiddies BMW pedal car being eaten by a Nissan Juke.

  12. Sporkinum

    It all depends on how you use it.

    I have a plug-in C-Max hybrid with 20 mile electric range. For what I do, it works great. I would love a long range electric, but always having an engine is great. I get 48 mpg (imp) hwy on gas anyway.

  13. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    fuel cell technology has the greatest potential [...] in terms of driving performance, range and refueling, which for the Clarity is 366 miles range with a 3‑ to 5‑minute refuel

    You might have to drive more than 366 miles to find a hydrogen refueling station. There is exactly one here in the entire Sacramento metro region; even the SF Bay area only has a handful of 'em. Meanwhile, we have approximately 1.47 zillion gas (sorry, "petrol") stations, and more solar power than we know what to do with. Given that, a plug-in hybrid seems to be a more practical choice, at least in these parts.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Yes, I know of only one Hydrogen point in North London* ( there may be some others somewhere). This is a busy, dense, fairly affluent part of a major capital city.

      There are a few electric charge points, mostly in town centres, such as the ones in Muswell Hill or Hampstead - coincidentally particularly well-heeled suburbs. But these would not sustain a high number of electric car users, and as I note above an awful lot of the properties around these parts have no off-street parking. So conventional fuel will be here to stay for a good while yet.

      *Hydrogen pump in the Sainsbury fuel station opposite the Honda dealer in Hendon

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HA! My all natural fuel transportation kicks ass!

    A bit of hay, the occasional apple, & my horse can go for hours. Give him a ginger colonic & he'll race past you as you're stuck in traffic. Even better is the fact that the only time he ever gets plugged in is when he goes out to stud duty at the neighbor's ranch.

    So neener neener neener! He farts on your electric fuel cell hybrid mocha frappa lappa crappachino froofymobile!

    *Blows a feisty raspberry*

    /s

  15. cdnjay

    I remember hydrogen fuel cells being all the rage when I was a kid but now it seems like Toyota and Honda are the only remaining true believers. Everyone else is either in denial on fossil fuels or has realized that battery electric is the future.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have no way whatsoever to back it up with evidence

    But I suspect an important reason why internal combustion cars are set to be replaced with electric rather than hydrogen-powered ones is purely because a few years ago someone put his (and his backers) money where his mouth is and set out to make an electric car that doesn't suck¹. If Toyota or anyone else had taken a similar "nothing short of World domination is acceptable" approach they could have imposed their own technology instead, whatever that may be: hydrogen, coal, hamster on a wheel, cold fusion, lukewarm fission, ...

    As I say, no evidence at all. That's never kept me from speculating before though.

    ¹ As a way to pass the time while waiting for his ride to Mars to be ready.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuel cell by-product

    Isn't that water? What would happen in the very hypothetical scenario that 90% of cars ran on hydrogen? Venice would cease to be a novelty? Our cities and roads would be permanently covered in fog? Water would be collected in a reservoir and emptied at designated points? Cars would come with showers as an option? Bathtub for SUVs?

    Sorry for the stupid question, but I'm genuinely curious.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Fuel cell by-product

      Water is also a by-product of conventional vehicles. Water evaporates, especially at the temperatures it's produced at in an ICE. What temperature does a fuel cell reach?

      The A/Cs preferred horse is far more polluting. If you look at any old photos from the days of horse transport look at the state of the streets. Somehow none of the historical dramas ever get that bit of scenic detail right.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not all that silly

    I live in LA and drive 14-20 miles to work depending on route. So the range wouldn't be a limitation and if it got a me the white sticker that allowed me to use the HOV lane...

    So, the range per se isn't a problem, it's how much time does it take to refuel.

    Also, how much energy is used to make hydrogen?

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Not all that silly

      "Also, how much energy is used to make hydrogen?"

      About a universe full.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not all that silly

        "About a universe full."

        No, all it takes is a big bang.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Honda just needs something to get its quota of ZEV credits. Before the BEV Clarity they had the Fit EV which was leased in California.

    The most interesting Clarity is in fact the PHEV which will (they say) have an AER of 41(?) miles. Nothing on price or the boot space, though. The PHEV will doubt be using stuff from Voltec that they've licensed from GM.

    The HFCV is also California compliance. CARB has much more generous credits for HFCV than BEV and PHEV so it's worth leasing out a few.

    HFCV manufacturers are still saying 2025 for mass manufacture (whatever that means). You have to wonder where battery tech and pricing, as well as general PEV pricing will be given another 8 years.

  20. Black Betty

    Why not offer different battery pack options.

    Let the "average" or "budget conscious" (read skint) driver have an EV that doesn't break the bank, using the cheapest battery technology capable of delivering 100-150 km range.

    Let the few who need the range or can't pass up a dick measuring contest pay to suit their needs.

    Now simply rent out extended range batteries for the times they are actually needed.

    Or make car and home batteries interchangeable. After for most of us, getting into the one for four or five hours, generally means we won't be in the other for the next several days.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Why not offer different battery pack options.

      "Now simply rent out extended range batteries for the times they are actually needed."

      Where does the extended range battery go? At the time you need it you probably need the storage space for luggage.

    2. Stoke the atom furnaces

      Re: Why not offer different battery pack options.

      Renting out trailers with gasoline/generator cobos for long road trips might be a more realistic option.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Why not offer different battery pack options.

        how how about a regular internal combustion dino-burning engine under the hood? 'hybrid' config optional.

  21. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I guess I don't have to rely upon my memory to know what fraction of my journeys are less than 80 miles... My phone - or rather Google - knows. Of course I would have to filter the data (I,E, ignore journeys that I make Mon-Fri 9-5 in my works goods vehicle).

    My point is, someone could create an app that would give prospective EV owners a very good idea of the sort of range they need. It could even take into account factors such as hills and temperature.

  22. DropBear

    The best argument against buying a car with an 80-mile range is the experience of having owned a car that can go a thousand miles on a single tank (not that I'm the target market anyway, not by a long shot...). Yes, almost all of my trips would fit comfortably within that range (I rarely get out of the city), but "almost all" is fundamentally different from "all", and there's nothing else feasible around for the exceptions, so this could never work for me. Even if I could afford it, which I absolutely don't.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Well, it will always be up to the user to choose the right vehicle for the job. My longest car journeys tend to be of several hours drive down to the coast... But at those times I'd rather use a van I can sleep in, and not my daily run-around.

      99℅ I don't need to move a sofa from A to B, though it's handy that I have access to a vehicle that can do so on occasion.

      The joy of a ICE vehicle with a large tank is that one doesn't have to drive to a fuel station every day. This is different to EVs which can be 'filled up' at home (if you live in an appropriate home)

  23. tony2heads

    80 miles

    That would be aiming at the little old lady going to the shops.

    Considering the age distribution in the Japanese population, that might be a viable market.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: 80 miles

      That car is American sized. In Japan you need a certification that you have where to park it before you can buy it. You need to drop it to half the size to get anywhere near Japanese market reqs and that spot is practically taken by the Mistubishi MiEV. It has most of that market licked.

  24. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Electric heater

    Up here in New England (unlike old England) we have proper winters. I regularly drive to work when the outside air temperature is below -10C or -15C and I have driven to work in -25C weather.

    Gasoline engines produce lots of lovely waste heat, but what I need to know before buying an electric car is the range of a Tesla in a traffic jam with the electric heater on full blast.

  25. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Natural Gas Vehicles

    I wish the government / industry would pay more attention to natural gas powered vehicles.

    NGVs have lower emissions that gasoline and diesel and, unlike hydrogen, there is an extensive natural gas pipe network already in place.

    Tax dollars should be pushing NGVs, not battery powered electrics.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Natural Gas Vehicles

      "Tax dollars should be pushing NGVs, not battery powered electrics."

      Tax dollars shouldn't be subsidizing ANYTHING, because YOU should not be paying for your neighbor's vehicle choice. Therein lies the ENTIRE problem! If it's not economically viable, let it die. I bet Tesla would do just fine without subsidies. And hybrid cars, same thing. Gummint shouldn't be trying to determine who the winners and losers are by shuffling public money into a currently-favored (read: corrupt politicians getting paid off) technology.

      And don't EVEN get me started on CAFE standards in the USA...

  26. Spaceman Spiff

    Come on Honda! An electric car today with only an 80 mile range. That would get me from home into Chicago, and halfway back before I die on the side of the road! Thanks, but no thanks!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > That would get me from home into Chicago, and halfway back before I die on the side of the road! Thanks, but no thanks!

    I don't know what you're complaining about! It wouldn't get me into Chicago at all, and that's before I figure out how to cross the Atlantic.

  28. Mat_the_w_

    In mild winters such as the UK, the air source heat pump in the Nissan Leaf will work amazingly on all of these fronts. Great delivery is within 30 seconds, with no pre heating. It may drop 10 miles off your 107 mile range.

    As a Brit now living in Minnesota, US, we regularly see -30C and colder during the winter, and this is when I'll see my range drop on the very very coldest day to 70 miles. HOWEVER this is clearly the most extreme case, on a vehicle tech released in 2015. With batteries double the size, in weather that comes NOWHERE near these extreme conditions, you should never expect to see more than 20% range drop due to heating or cooling loads.

    Other general points: in almost every state in the US, total lifecycle CO2 creation is significantly lower in EVs vs. ICE's. And the grid, year by year, continues to lower it's CO2 intensity, so your car gets "cleaner" as it ages. Cool, no?!

  29. itzman
    Trollface

    Honda's new electric car can go an incredible 80 miles!

    ..and that's just on the back of the RAC recovery truck.

  30. Kaltern

    Still can't understand how people are so dense when it comes to batteries.

    Where does the power come from to put the power into batteries in the first place?

    Reliance on fossil fuels time and time again comes down to convenience and cost. And both are a terrible reason to ignore the downsides to these fuels.

    I always read comments like these on sites all over the place, and it always comes down to one simple fact.

    Anything else is perceived to be more expensive than fossil fuels, so therefore they're not important.

    Such a closed-minded attitude is going to affect your children's children, or suchlike. Personally, quite apart from being some sort of green vegan freak (which I am not), I simply want the human race to progress. And right now, the energy ceiling being enforced by the big energy companies, and the attitudes of those who don't see the point - or dismiss other possible options due to cost - is stifling our own development.

    I will get downvoted to hell for this, not that I give a shit. But I look at how things have 'progressed' over the last 60 years, and apart from refining the energy we already have, I don't see much improvement since the combustion engine was developed.

    I can only hope that somehow, the EM Drive's physics is a real thing, and open the eyes of the closed-minded who can make things happen.

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