2017 New York Auto Show



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Sunday March 12, 2017 2017 New York Auto Show This weekend saw the opening of the 2017 New York Auto show and there were a few new electric cars and concepts on display.  As fuel economy standards get tougher around the world companies are responding by increasingly electrifying their vehicle line-up and we saw quite a bit of this in this years show.


When Honda announced their newest version of the Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle in Los Angeles they also hinted that this would be the first of a family of Clarity vehicles that would include a battery electric and plug-in hybrid versions.  At this years New York Auto Show Honda made good with this promise showing off both the Electric and Plug-in hybrid Clarity cars.


The Clarity Electric will only be available in California and Oregon but Honda did hint that if there was enough people wanting to buy the car in other states they might consider expanding the sales area.  The Clarity EV will be powered by a 161hp electric motor driven by a 25.5 KWh lithium ion battery pack which Honda says will provide a range of about 80 miles on a charge and a EPA estimated 111-Mpge fuel economy rating.  The car will also offer fast charging capability using the CCS charge connection capable of charging to 80% in about 30 minutes.  While I am sure that this will appeal to die-hard Honda fans the range is way short of the 100+ miles that the latest generation of EVs are now offering and way way below the 200 mile range of the Chevy Bolt, next generation Leaf, and Tesla Model 3.  It looks to me like a car that was designed to fail. 
The Clarity Plug-in hybrid on the other hand looks like a winner to me if it is priced correctly.  The car is driven by a 181hp electric motor that is powered by a 17KW lithium ion battery pack which is said to provide an estimated 42 miles of all electric range.  On the ICE side is a 1.5 liter 4 cylinder Atkinson-cycle motor that is based on the current Fit power unit and appears to function as a range extender with the ability to also drive the wheels which is similar to the Voltec power train on the Chevy Volt.  EPA fuel economy is rated at 105-Mpge which is comparable to the 106-Mpge of the Chevy Volt even though the Clarity is a larger vehicle.

So far there is no indication of when we should expect these two vehicles will be available, all that Honda said is "later this year" but it was hinted that like it's FCEV cousin, the Clarity Electric will initially be offered as lease only.


Kia has the Soul EV on sale here and just recently began selling their Optima plug-in hybrid in the US.  At the New York Auto Show they introduced a new plug-in hybrid that is bound for sale in the US, a PHEV version of the Niro Crossover.  The Niro PHEV will be driven by the same 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engine and AC motor as the Niro Hybrid but the battery will be bumped up to an 8.9 liter lithium ion pack that Kia claim will power the car for up to 34 miles of all electric range.  I expect this is based on a more lenient standard and once the official EPA numbers come out the range will be more like 28 miles.


The Kia Niro PHEV is expected to go on sale in Europe in the fall but so far no release date for the US has been specified.


Just when we thought it was gone the Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid appeared once again at the New York Auto Show as the Porsche Panamera Turbo S e-Hybrid.  Take the Panamera V-8, add a couple of turbo chargers, then hook it up to a 14.4 KWh lithium ion battery pack and you end up with a power train that can kick out 680hp, but can also give an all electric range of 31 miles.  When pushed the car can do 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds and offers a top speed of 193mph.  There is no indication of when this car will go on sale but it has been priced starting at $182,450.


Lucid Motors also showed a couple of concept cars at the New York Auto Show this year.  First they had a version of the Lucid Air sedan which is basically a test mule which will give a pretty good indication of the car that they plan to put on sale in a couple of years.  The Lucid Air is aimed at the luxury car market and will be a direct competitor to the Tesla Model S.  It is expected to come with a dual motor set-up offering capable of outputting 1,000hp with power coming from a 100 KWh lithium battery pack.  This is expected to give the car a range of over 300 miles and offer a 0-60 time of just 2.5 seconds.


The second car that Lucid showed was the Air Alpha Speed which had recently been clocked at 217mph at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio.  Lucid pointed out that 217mph was the maximum speed that could be tested and is not necessarily the top speed of this car.  The Air Alpha Speed appears to use the same power train as the Air but there was no indication if this is what should be expected of the Air when it launches in 2019 or if this is going to be offered as a separate high performance model.


The electrification of vehicle power trains continues to move forward and at each show we are seeing more new plug-in models headed to showrooms.  I wonder when the tipping point will occur and demand for Plug-in cars begins to eclipse demand for regular gas models.

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