Author Topic: Honda’s Best Kept Secret?  (Read 276 times)

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Offline Fast Eddie B

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Honda’s Best Kept Secret?
« on: February 13, 2019, 01:28:32 PM »
We started out considering a Chevy Volt, had test driven one and liked it. But in looking at reviews, we found out about a car that we, and apparently most others, had never heard of - the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). We looked at and then test drove one and liked it. Over the Volt it was way more spacious, about Accord-sized, and we’ve had excellent reliability from Honda vehicles in the past. And this was all before Chevy announced they were discontinuing the Volt.

Over the years we had acquired 100 shares of Tesla stock. We sold it at $350 and used the proceeds to buy a base model 2018 Clarity back in November. We were tired of waiting for a low-priced Model 3, and a hybrid made more sense for our use case anyway. Discounted to $31,500 before GA tax, tags and title, $33,500 after. We were motivated to do this in 2018 for tax reasons - 2018 stood out as a rare year where we could take full advantage of the $7,500 tax credit, and dropping the pre-tax effective price to $24,000. Quits a deal. (As an aside, rumor has it that in Japan the Clarity is a $55,000 car, and its being sold as a loss-leader in the US).

After 3 months, we’re loving the car. Charged up, we’ve seen between 38 and 51 miles of estimated electric (EV) range. Honda estimates 47 miles EV range as the average. The variability is due to colder temps giving less range, plus the estimate is based on past driving behavior. These numbers let us do a significant portion of our running around on electricity alone, making for a very quiet ride and making trips to the gas station rare. For trips exceeding that range the Clarity switches over to hybrid mode (HV) and gets just over 40 mpg, pretty impressive for a relatively large, heavy car. It only has a 7 gal gas tank, but that still allows for a combined range of over 300 miles and we like to stop more often than that to stretch. And there’s pleasure in a fillup only costing $10 to $12 on average.

Here’s the display on a relatively warm day after running errands for 50 miles and still having 5 miles EV range left:



Which brings up an interesting scenario we had not considered - there exists a ratio between gas prices and electric rates where it can actually be cheaper to use gas. This begins to be a factor as gas gets close to or under $2/gal. In some places where electric rates are high, it can cost as much as 28% more to run electric compared to gas. We’re fortunate that the TVA keeps rates around us fairly low, slightly favoring electric over gas even at these low gas prices.

The Clarity comes with a 110v “Level 1” charger. With that, it takes about 12 hours from empty to a full charge from a standard outlet. With our use case that’s fine, as we typically charge overnight. A 220v “Level 2” charger gets the job done in about 3 1/2 hours. Not worth the $300+ cost for us now. That might change if gas goes way up in the future.

Anyway, loving the car. There are myriad selectable modes, both in EV and HV: NORMAL, ECONOMY and SPORT. Each has its time and place. One can just let the car make all the decisions, or take full control. The driving experience is better with some battery in reserve, and  this can be maintained by switching to HV with some percentage of battery still left.

Like all hybrids, the Clarity makes you aware of how much energy is wasted in conventional gas cars. You actually get to see your battery charge and  EV range increase as you coast and brake. Its addicting.

And Honda didn’t scrimp on this car. It has Adaptive Cruise Control, which allows the car to pace slower traffic ahead when necessary. It warns of lane departure by wiggling the steering wheel, and can even maintain the vehicle within its lane, though it periodically prompts for driver input to make sure you haven’t fallen asleep. It has collision mitigation that will apply the brakes if it thinks a collision is imminent. The infotainment system has been criticized as an older version with a clunkier interface, but with Apple CarPlay it gets the job done.

As to the styling. Overall the Clarity’s shape is very similar to dozens of other cars out there. The vestigial fender skirts perhaps pay homage to the original Insight, but also remind some of a 1970’s Citroen SM. A stying cue some vociferously hate, but which doesn’t bother us. Oh, and in about 3 months of looking, we have yet to come across another Clarity “in the wild”.

Stock photo (ours is dark metallic green):




Which comes full circle to the title of this thread - it sure seems like Honda is actively trying NOT to sell Clarity’s. There are various theories on this, but the majority of people to whom I’ve mention we bought a Honda Clarity have never heard of it. And yet, even without any apparent effort only the Tesla Model 3 beat out the Clarity in EV sales last month...




Like I said, Honda’s best kept secret?
« Last Edit: February 13, 2019, 02:37:31 PM by Fast Eddie B »

Offline superdave

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Re: Honda’s Best Kept Secret?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2019, 02:06:16 PM »
wow nice scoop.
this sounds like something i'd be interested in when the time comes
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Offline Awatsjr

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Re: Honda’s Best Kept Secret?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2019, 08:46:22 PM »
Volt is 9 years old. It appears Honda has decided to go with a similar system. I'll bet GM has something even more advanced in the works especially in the range extended segment.

No doubt Honda has a good product. Love my Acura.

Offline Fast Eddie B

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Re: Honda’s Best Kept Secret?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2019, 08:24:20 AM »
A thread was just started on the Clarity subforum about recent price drops.

https://www.insideevsforum.com/community/index.php?threads/2019-honda-clarity-price-drop.5069/

It’s a developing story, but the gist is that...

1) Honda seems to be offering a $6k price drop, at least in certain states, and,

2) There seems to be little or no Clarity availability in other states.

#1 is great news if anyone is in the market and in the right locale. At least one person got that pricing at Costco.
$26k before tax incentives has been reported.

Not such great news for the resale value of used ones, at least for those who got in at the relatively higher prices.

The thread also mentions Chevy is offering $6k off on the Bolt, though I don’t see that on the Chevy site.

Offline superdave

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Re: Honda’s Best Kept Secret?
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2019, 09:57:54 AM »
FWIW consumer reports didn't give it a very good rating, but it's still great for the EV options to be growing.  I'm very excited about this space and I think are very close to it really taking off.  I used to see EV very rarely and now I see one at least everyday, sometimes two or three.  And I live in Central Jersey, not exactly the hot bed of the tech sector.
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Offline Fast Eddie B

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Re: Honda’s Best Kept Secret?
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2019, 10:48:33 AM »
FWIW consumer reports didn't give it a very good rating...

That CR report has been discussed a lot on the linked forum. It seems to make assumptions about long term dependability, in spite of it being a brand new model in the hands of very, very few people.

Hopefully the Clarity will have the long term reliability I've come to expect from other Honda's, but I think most of the forum members admit that we are, to some extent, beta testers of an emerging technology that will soon find its way into many more Honda products.

 

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