By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co <7267.T> will roll out three environmentally friendly sedans under the Clarity name in the United States by the end of 2017, the Japanese automaker said on Thursday, as it aims to boost green vehicle sales.
So far the name has been used for Honda's hydrogen fuel cell car, the FCX Clarity. A totally new model, the Honda Fuel Cell, was launched in Japan in March and will be available in California late this year.
That will be followed by the Clarity Electric in 2017 and the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid late next year, John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, told reporters at a briefing in Detroit on Wednesday.
All three five-passenger models will use the same underpinning platform. Honda had previously said it would make all three sedans, without naming them.
Honda Chief Executive Takahiro Hachigo said in February that by 2030 the company wants green cars to make up two-thirds of its sales, up from 5 percent now. That includes hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fully electric and fuel cell vehicles.
Honda also said in a statement on Thursday that the 2017 Accord Hybrid will go on sale in the United States before the end of spring. Honda sold about 14,000 of the previous model in the U.S. market in 2014, the last full year it was available.
Mendel said Honda expects the new Accord Hybrid to rack up double the annual sales of the previous model.
The 2017 Accord Hybrid will run 49 miles per gallon of gasoline in the city and 47 mpg on the highway, based on more stringent 2017 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ratings, Mendel said.
For years, Honda has been saying that fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are the best long-term alternative to gasoline and diesel-powered cars. But the development of FCVs will be limited until hydrogen filling stations proliferate.
The fuel cell and electric Clarity models will begin sales in California and expand to other U.S. states as the number of hydrogen-filling and electric-charging stations increase, Honda said. The plug-in hybrid version will be available in all U.S. states.
Mendel declined to estimate how many fuel cell vehicles would be on U.S. roads by 2030.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Richard Chang)