Today, Honda previewed the revival of the Insight hybrid, seen above, ahead of its official debut at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. This comes just shortly after the launch of the Clarity trio — a battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and fuel cell electric (FCEV) — which doesn’t have a standard, non-plug-in hybrid model. What gives? If you’re a little confused, you’re not alone, but we think we can help you make sense of Honda’s hybrid hierarchy, and how they correspond to other advanced- and traditional-powertrain vehicles in its lineup.
Let’s start with the Insight. We honestly didn’t know that Honda would be recycling that nameplate until this morning. We didknow that Honda would reveal a “compact dedicated hybrid” at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We don’t know what platform will underpin the new Insight — and “dedicated” could just refer to the nameplate, not the platform. So perhaps it’s on its own platform, or it shares with another compact Honda: the Civic.
Then why not call it the Civic Hybrid?
Our guess is that Honda wants to separate the sporty from the “upscale,” the latter being a used to describe the Insight in its press release this morning.
But Clarity is also being called “upscale,” yet there’s no traditional hybrid under that nameplate. What’s that about?
That’s a separation of segment, and possibly also powertrain technology. Insight is compact, Clarity is mid-size. The Clarity nameplate might also be reserved for cars with plugs or fuel cells, which the Insight doesn’t have. The fact that Honda chose to make its midsize PHEV a Clarity rather than stick with the Accord nameplate could be evidence of that.
Oh yeah, the Accord. What’s up with that?
There is a new Accord Hybrid on the way. It’ll be roomier than the Insight. There won’t be an Accord Plug-In Hybrid, because Clarity has that covered. Clear enough?
One more time?
Honda compact ICE: Civic
Honda compact hybrid: Insight
Honda compact EVs: None, right now. (But you can get the sub-compact Fit EV in certain places.)
Honda mid-size ICE: Accord
Honda mid-size hybrid: Accord Hybrid
Honda mid-size EVs: Clarity Electric, Clarity Fuel Cell, Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
So what would Honda call a compact plug-in or fuel cell vehicle?
Who knows? But probably not Civic. We’d guess they’d either start growing the Insight family or give it its own nameplate.
You’re welcome. Thanks for reading.