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The plug-in hybrid Honda Clarity will have an electric range second only to the Chevy Volt

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It’ll go 42 miles on a charge, plus a gasoline engine

Photo: Honda

Honda’s new plug-in hybrid, the Clarity, will go an estimated 42 miles on electric power, giving it the second-best range of any plug-in behind only the Chevy Volt.

A plug-in hybrid includes both a large battery and a gasoline-powered engine. It plugs in to charge like an all-electric car, but, when the battery is exhausted, the regular engine kicks in and gives a much-extended range for longer journeys. I own a Chevy Volt and through 6,000 miles of driving, my wife and I filled the tank only three times because most of our driving was done within its 53-mile electric range.

The Clarity, which will arrive at Honda dealers nationwide later this year, has a 17-kilowatt hour battery pack paired with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that both charges the battery and can directly power the wheels as well under certain conditions. Honda says the total battery-and-gasoline range will be around 330 miles — but a quick trip to the gas station and you can keep driving. The plug-in Clarity should be able to fully charge its battery pack from a 240-volt outlet in 2.5 hours (around 90 minutes faster than the Volt).

Photo: Honda

Honda is actually making three different variants of the Clarity, Honda’s model name for its most environmentally friendly vehicles. There’s the plug-in hybrid, a hydrogen fuel cell version only available in California, and a surprisingly short-ranged (official numbers not released) electric-only Clarity that comes with a 25.5-kWh battery and will only be available in California and Oregon.

All three Honda Clarity cars will launch later this year.