First impression: Automotive evolution epicenter
Walking the expansive floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center is a work out. By the end of day 2, I've transitioned no less than 15 miles without leaving the complex. This is home to the biggest car show on the west coast -- where every major import, domestic car and light truck manufacturers shares their latest innovative Auto wares. What do we learn from the auto innovation that is Honda Clarity?
My take away: Electrification of the personal automobile goes mainstream, and is the near future in personal transportation. The transition from internal combustion engines to electric motors is not decades off, but a handful of years. With electrification of the car comes Autonomous driving. While plying the streets and freeways of Los Angeles, I’m reminded of the immediate need -- Wednesday evening's 3.5 mile sojern across town takes 48 minutes -- L.A. is grid-locked to the point of transportation constipation -- the current system is hopelessly broken.
Green Car of the Year award: 13 years and counting, Honda dominates
Thursday morning at 2017 AutoMobility, formally the Los Angeles International Auto Show, came early, with Green Car Journal’s grueling months long selection, vetting, and finalist process, coming to a much anticipated conclusion, With the announcement of the winning 2018 Green Car of the Year.
There, sitting front row and center, beneath the announcement stage and big screen surround view, sit the 5 finalist all midsize, all electrified in one form or another.
For the 2018 competition,Honda is the only manufacturer with two entries, the redesigned and engineered 2018 Accord, and the Sci-Fi futuristic 3rd generation Honda Clarity -- the only entry out of five finalist offering a hydrogen fuel cell electric option. Yet Honda finds itself in rarified company, with the most dynamic, tech rich, and drive capable 2018 Toyota Camry ever offered. Is this a Camry? It too arrives with an electrified variant, with greater fuel efficiency noted across the entire offering.
Camry is Toyota’s exceptional drive and ride sedan experience
Yet the story for Camry is a bit different than Clarity’s. Toyota focuses on Camry’s body design, ease of personal electronic connectivity, form and function. Like Accord, the second of Honda’s contestants, Camry comes to market with a much improved advanced collision avoidance, driver assist safety suite, standard across the lineup. Camry further offers a hybrid gasoline electric variant, touting Prius-like fuel efficiency in a near full size 4 door sedan format. This is not your grandfather’s Camry.
In rolls the Hyundai Ionic trilogy
Rounding out the competition is the latest electric car offering in North America to go mainstream at an attainable price point. In it’s second year of production, the well received Hyundai Ionic is available in 3 electric variants: A stand alone BEV, ( battery electric) gasoline electric hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid. I recently spent a week with Ionic BEV, and found this compact 5 door electric hatchback to be comfortable, fun to drive, and surprisingly “normal” in drive dynamic and every-day task utility. Ionic, along with Chevy Bolt, demonstrates in real time that all-electric, all the time, can be affordable, fun and practical.
Green Car Journal’s editor and publisher Ron Cogan, shares with Torque News that choosing this year’s winner proved to be a very difficult task.’ With all finalist deemed to be exceptional in segment topping fuel efficiency, advanced active safety, tech-rich personal electronic connectivity, and innovative futuristic form leading functionality, Honda Clarity offered the greatest innovation in electric generation and re-charge options.
*This is the 13th annual Green Car of the Year award ceremony to be held in Los Angeles. When the majority expert panel consensus was tallied, 2018 Honda Clarity came out on top of an exceptional field of viable segment topping contenders, with the hydrogen fuel cell electric option taking the nod. *Clarity was the only FCV (fuel cell vehicle) in this competition.