Some Clarity on the Clarity: Honda Provides PHEV, EV Details

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Article updated 6/20/17 and 10/25/17 to include Clarity EV lease price and EPA fuel efficiency and range ratings for EV and Clarity PHEV. New info is in italics.

Honda Clarity PHEV
The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid.

2017 Honda Clarity Electric

Honda unveiled the other two members of it Clarity family at the New York Auto Show recently, providing some but not all of the info prospective buyers will want to know about the Clarity plug-in hybrid and all-electric models.

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The missing stuff:

Equipment lists, trim levels and pricing for the PHEV model.

Honda has hinted that both models will be priced in the mid $30,000s before applicable federal tax credits and any state or local incentives.

The EV easily qualifies for the $7,500 federal income tax credit and the PHEV’s large battery should put it in the same class.

As for EV range –  Honda, which clearly prefers the fuel-cell electric version of the Clarity to the upcoming battery EV, apparently is aiming the battery-powered model at a small piece of the commuter market. Its EPA range rating is a modest 89 miles per charge.

The 2017 Clarity EV initially will be available at select Honda dealerships  in California and Oregon, beginning in August. The EV will be offered with an introductory 20,000-miles-per-year lease of $269 per month for 36 months. The lease will include 24/7 roadside assistance. The lease price includes the $7,500 federal tax credit.

–In California, Clarity EV lessees will be eligible for a $2,500 cash rebate from the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. For households with annual income of no more than 3 times the federal poverty level, the California rebate is increased by $2,000.

–Both models will be offered only with “luxury packaging.” Each will use unique fascias, some subtle  changes in lighting and different 18-inch wheels to help passers-by tell the difference between EV and plug-in (the Clarity fuel cell electric, launched in December as a California, lease-only car, has its own fascia, wheels and lighting design as well). There also will be a special “hero” color for each model.

–The Clarity EV will have a 25.5 kWh battery. The EPA fuel efficiency rating is 114 mpg-e combined (126 city/103 highway). Range is EPA-rated at up to 89 miles on a full charge. Recharging time is just over 3 hours with the properly sized Level 2 system.

–The EV’s powertrain is rated at 121 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque.

–The Clarity PHEV will have a 17 kWh lithium battery, good for an estimated all-electric driving range of up to 47 miles before kicking into standard hybrid mode with the gas engine and electric motor working together. That’s up from the 44 miles of range Honda had initially suggested.  The EPA has issued a fuel efficiency rating of 110 mpg-equivalent and more than 340 miles on a full charge and a tank of gas.  Combined fuel economy is rated at 42 mpg  (44 city, 40 highway). The battery pack can be recharged in about 2.5 hours on a Level 2, 240-volt system, Honda says.

–The PHEV’s powertrain is rated at 181 horsepower and 232 lb-ft of torque.

–The PHEV will be launched as a 2018 model late this year, with 50-state availability.

The Clarity FCEV, or fuel-cell electric vehicle, is a lease-only car, offering up to 366 miles of range on a tank of hydrogen. It was launched in select California markets in late 2016.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel-Cell
2017 Honda Clarity FCEV.

30 thoughts on “Some Clarity on the Clarity: Honda Provides PHEV, EV Details”

  1. Hi John,

    My son is looking to purchase a Clarity PHEV the end of March in Florida. That Federal tax credit would really make or break the sale. He is an Aerospace Engineer for NASA and researchs everything in detail. He finds the Clarity to be by far superior to any other PHEV car out there. Mainly due to truck space plus other items, too many to list. Do you know how I can definitely find out about the Federal tax credit? Also, do you think HOnda will release more cars to the dealershipsame by the end of March ?

    • The federal tax credit for the Clarity PHEV is for the full amount, up to a maximum of $7,500. You can see for yourself at:
      I have no insights re the pace at which Honda will be releasing more cars, but if your preferred dealership doens’t have the exact color/equipment combo your son wants, he should be able to order it – dealers often trade among themselves and, as a last resort, if he’s willing to wait, the dealer can place a special order with Honda.

  2. Hello John!
    Last I looked on the IRS website the Full-Electric Clarity wasn’t listed as qualifying for the tax credit- only the Plug-In. Is that an issue? Seems like it more than qualifies on paper…

    • I believe this is because the Clarity EV is only available via lease, and in that case, any tax credit stays with the owner (Honda, or the leasing entity that bought it from Honda if it isn’t being leased directly). However, the lease terms should include credit for the tax credit, thus lowering the cost basis on which the monthly payment is based. As Honda doesn’t sell the cars to consumers, I guess the IRS (and DoE, which also doesn’t show the Clarity EV in its plug-in vehicle tax credits listings) figured there was no need to post the credit.
      I have query in to Honda and if there is more to the stry I’ll share it as soon as I get an answer.

  3. I test drove a Clarity Plug-In today. Great car in every way. Far superior to a Bolt or Volt. A problem arises which is that Honda of America has not taken the necessary actions to get the Clarity listed on the Washington State approved Alternative Vehicle list with the Department of Licensing. This gives the buyer a sales tax exemption on the first $32000 of the purchase price. At 9.5% that adds up to about $3000 on a Clarity Plug-In. It meets all the requirements. Can you find out whenough or if Honda will get them approved? They really need to be approved before the end of the year as it appears the federal credit may be gone after that.

    • State of Washington Dept of Licensing is doing due diligence right now and expects to have the Clarity PHEV on its approved list “soon,” I am told. Let us hope that “soon” is before the end of the year and/or that section of Senate version of the GOP tax bill that retains the federal tax credit program prevails in committee.

  4. Hi John,

    I am writing this email to you on the last day of November, 2017. Honda promotions say the Clarity will be released nationally on December 1.

    I have a promise of a “right of first refusal” from my local Florida dealer on one of the first three cars it will receive, but the dealership still is unable to tell me if the PHEV will come with a federal tax credit of $7,500 for the year 2017.

    Your article on the subject says it “should” come with a full $7500 credit, but have you heard for certain that it will?

  5. I talked to the “Fleet Manager” of a local dealership in Phoenix, AZ. After first never hearing about the Clarity, he now says Arizona will get the Clarity PHEV in mid-January. Any idea what happened to the “simultaneous” release in all 50 states? Or has Honda still not informed its dealers?

    • Hi. As I understand it, not all dealers get ’em at the same time, so there will be a dealership or dealerships in the Phoenix area that gets one or more of the cars on or close to the beginning of December, but others may not get ’em til later. If the dealership you talked to really didn’t know about the Clarity (PHEV or otherwise), that would indicate that it isn’t one of the top-tier “green” dealers for Honda and likely wasn’t at top of list for deliveries. Some dealerships simply don’t want to handle alternative energy vehicles until they see widespread public acceptance; they typically are lower profit sales that take a lot more of the sales force’s time than do conventional gasoline ICE models. I believe there are 8 or 9 Honda dealerships in the Phoenix area, perhaps you’d want to try a few others to see what they say. And if you haven’t, check out our piece on how to arm yourself with the info you need to protect against know-nothing dealerships when you are shop for plug-in and other electrified cars.

  6. @Steve “I checked the Mercedes C350e, Chevy Volt, and BMW 330e and they use premium”

    FYI, since the 2016 model year the Volt calls for regular gas.

  7. Hi – Any update?? I have preordered a Clarity Plug in from my local Oregon dealer who claims to be one of 6 dealerships in Oregon that will get the first batches of the PHEVs. I can’t wait!!! Looking for any info on dates. Local shop says late November.

  8. Thanks John. I’m planning to buy a PHEV so I checked the Mercedes C350e, Chevy Volt, and BMW 330e and they use premium. Toyota Prius Prime and Ford Fusion Energi use regular. Sometimes on vacation I’m out in the boonies and not all stations have a premium pump.

    • If you have a new (or newish) car that is supposed to use premium and you have to use a tank of regular once in a blue moon the ECU will handle knock issues. Other than slightly reduced performance and a slight increase n tailpipe emissions until you fill the tank with premium again there should be no adverse impact. If you ran thousands of miles on regular there could be some premature wear issues (there’s never been a scientific test – too expensive for such a limited issue – but there is some anecdotal evidence that running regular for a long time through an engine designed for premium could cause problems).

    • Official word from Honda: Clarity PHEV is designed to run on regular gas.
      Specs on tank size, trunk size and other measurements won’t be avail until closer to retail launch – so think November/December.

    • Honda hasn’t released Clarity PHEV’s full specifications yet. I’m going to guess it will use regular unleaded – most hybrids and PHEVs do. And with something like 290 miles of range once the “up to” 42 miles of all-electric range is exhausted, the fuel tank can’t be much more than 8 gallons (that would be 320 miles at 40 mpg and 288 miles at 36 mpg). But please check back; as soon as full specs are available, we’ll post them.

  9. Illinois Honda dealers state the Clarity PHEV will not be sold here –in fact, I had to tell them there was a PHEV version coming out, not just California’s fuel cell model. Honda dealers here don’t even really try to sell the Accord Hybrid.

    A Honda dealer I was at in Massachusetts last week, a dealer that actually tries to sell Honda Accord Hybrids and has several on the lot, was at least aware of the Clarity PHEV, but stated it was only going to be released in NY.

    Honda needs to get its story together. It is losing credibility with us, and we have been long-time Honda drivers.

    • When Honda introduced the car to the media it said the Clarity PHEV would be released simultaneously in all 50 states.
      I am not aware of any policy change, so it appears that word hasn’t gotten out to all dealers yet – or else you’ve been talking to dealers who just don’t want to sell it.
      When hearing stuff like this, automakers generally shake their heads and say that their dealers are independent businesses and that they can’t control ’em (although they do have ways!).
      I’ve asked Honda for a response to your comment and will share it with you as soon as I get it.

    • Just got word back from Honda re your experience with Illinois and Mass. dealers.
      Here it is:
      “The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will be sold nationwide. This is unfortunate to hear. However, we have our annual dealer meeting and will be
      talking about the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, so the dealers will be well
      informed, if they aren’t already, by the end of this week.”

  10. What does the Clarity Electric’s pedestrian-warning whistle sound like? Will the PHEV have the whistle, too? I assume it will. Can it be disabled, or better, reprogrammed for a cooler sound than a whistle? I wish.

    • Haven’t heard it myself yet – Honda is being stingy with press cars – but a Honda spokesperson tells me it is a “low humming” sound and will be used on the Clarity PHEV – when it is operating in electric-only mode.

  11. If I charge the honda clarity electric (27.5 kwh battery) with a 120 home outlet.
    how many kwh does it take (because what the battery holds is NOT what is used).??
    At 50% efficiency it would be 55 kwh @ ~ $.30 / kwh = $16.50

    I have not seen the efficiency of the charge process discussed.

    • I’m awaiting some necessary info from Honda on actual usable battery capacity, but meantime, your charging efficiency estimate is off a bit – most systems are around 85% efficient. That would put the cost of charging a 25.5 kWh battery – which is the Honda Clarity Electric’s stated total capacity (not 27.5) – at about $8.80 (not $16.50) if the rate is 30-cents per kWh. If the usable capacity were to be 90% of the stated capacity, that would cut it to 20.4 kWh for a full recharge, and with 85% charging efficiency at 30-cents/kWh, a charging cost of $7.04. Hope this helps.

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