Honda pleasantly surprised the EV community with their plans to launch the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid and expand the Honda Clarity vehicle to include a fuel cell, battery electric, and plug-in hybrid variants. The announcement was made by John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, at a news event in Detroit.

Equipped with the next generation of Honda’s hybrid system, the 2017 Accord Hybrid is expected to provide a noticeably better fuel efficiency and deliver even more power than its predecessor. More specifically, we are talking about 212 HP – 8 percent more than the 2014 Honda Accord – and 48 miles per gallon of combined fuel consumption.

Not much has changed in terms of style: the signature shape is still here, only with blue accent headlights and taillights. Customers will be able to choose between three trim levels, as expected from a top of the line model. The final price is yet to be announced, but it should not deviate too much from the previous model.

You may already know that Honda – and most Japanese car manufacturers – are heavily invested in the hydrogen technology and see it as the cure for most of our energy problems. The efforts have now, finally, manifested in the form of the so-called Clarity Electric. This series of five-passenger sedans will be powered exclusively by hydrogen (with a separate Clarity Plug-In Hybrid available in the U.S. later in 2017). As a result, the car will emit only water. Customers can expect a range of approximately 300 miles and a refueling time of 3-5 minutes.

The biggest downside is the limited availability of hydrogen stations in the United States: upon the release of the car, there will be only 15 hydrogen stations in California. However, this number should grow to 100 by 2020, according to Steve Center, vice president of Honda’s Environmental Business Development and Product Regulatory Office.

From what we now know, the fuel cell version of the Honda Clarity should cost around $60,000 and be available in all 50 states by the end of 2017. Honda has high hopes for Clarity, expecting it to move alternative powertrains into the mainstream. “This is not a one-off. It is not a science experiment,” said Mendel, who is expecting the Honda Clarity line to become a long-term success.

•Clarity Fuel Cell gets two electrified siblings – the Clarity Electric and the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid – both launching in 2017

•New trio of Clarity vehicles provide unparalleled choices to customers through three different electric powertrain options

•All Clarity vehicles will offer spacious, five-passenger seating, premium features and interior appointments; consumers can learn more at http://www.automobiles.honda.com/Clarity

Honda is actually expanding their line of hybrid vehicles in a similar way to Hyundai and their Ioniq, an affordably priced hybrid, plug-in, and full EV car. The major difference is the extra size of the Honda Clarity and the addition of a hydrogen fuel cell variant.

Honda would like to electrify two-thirds of their global sales by 2030, to fulfill the mandate of its CEO. Mendel said that their target “is to more than double our sales from the 14,000 units in 2014.” This should be possible thanks to the company’s move to Sayama, Japan. The better supply chain should make the entire manufacturing process more efficient and give customers the next wave of hybrid vehicles.