Clarity instrument panel improvements

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by bill_m, Aug 8, 2019.

  1. bill_m

    bill_m Member

    [Moderator note: This thread was originally part of the "Clarity now only sold in California" discussion.]

    I think the average car buyer wants to figure out the car by sitting in the driver's seat and taking it for a test ride.

    But what they see is an extremely clunky , over busy, graphic user interface. Just take a look at Owner's Guide page 33: Instrument Panel. It looks like a bulletin board filled with random PostIt notes! This is not going to give the potential customer a good feeling about the car! The graphics should be far more intuitive, eg, an icon of the car with graphics related to the indicated area relative to the car, etc.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2019
  2. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    I know you were just giving one example and I'm not disagreeing with your overall argument, but I actually think the main instrument panel is pretty good (center infotainment is a separate topic although I don't use it that much so I don't mind it).

    Not sure if you are referring to this, which is on page 33:

    Owners guide page 33.JPG

    Or this, what a person actually sees on the test drive.

    Instrument panel - Copy.png

    I think it's clean and organized. And it's all anyone really needs, even though there are a bunch of other info you can look at if you want to but most people just want to drive and this screen pretty much has it all.

    I think some sales people make the car seem too complex. I watched an online video once that a dealer did, the ones where a local salesperson tells you about the car. He was inside the Clarity and practically the first thing he said was "when you want to switch to the gas engine you push this button and then when you want to switch back to battery you push it again. When you run low on battery you push the button and hold it and it will start charging the battery, then push it again when you want to stop charging, and one more time if you want to go back to driving on battery". I thought no one watching that video is ever going to buy the car. Now if instead he said "Here's the power button and the drive button, for the most part this is all you really need to know. Here on the dash is where it shows your battery gauge on the left and the fuel gauge on the right. Just like any car you will need to fill it up with gas before it gets to empty, but as long as you keep it charged you won't use very much gas and won't have to do that very often." And then from there goes on about the normal things like the interior, power seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, etc. I think he would have hooked a whole lot more buyers.
  3. bill_m

    bill_m Member

    I agree that the instrument panel is one that one can eventually learn to get used to and perhaps even enjoy. But, here are a few of the less than teachable moments:
    1. Why are the HV icon and the EV icons posted to two different areas of the panel, and in two different fonts !? Why should we have to look in more than one place to identify which mode we are in?? (Think of the helpful posts we require in order to alert us about being aware of the switch from one to the other at startup.) . Yes, you get used to it, but it is not what I want to have to note to remember when I first get into the driver's seat.
    2. Why do the charge gauge and the gas gauge take up so much real estate?? They seem to require so much space in order to draw our attention away from all the other clutter. Couldn't the almost useless horizontal slats denoting levels be replaced by more concise and informative numerical gauges? This is graph bloat.
    3. The ambient meter at our peripheral vision?? Ophthalmic exercise??
  4. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    EV and HV indicators are interesting, it's one of the things that is confusing to just about any hybrid owner at first because there is a different concept between EV Mode and "driving in EV" which I refer to as EV propulsion. I think this difference probably is the reason that the indicators are in different locations. HV is indicating mode, whereas EV is indicating propulsion source at that moment.

    EV propulsion is when the car is powered only by battery and ICE is off. It is indicated by the EV indicator appearing on the dash. Note that the EV indicator often appears even in HV mode, that's because when driving in HV mode it acts just like a regular hybrid, and regular hybrids shut off ICE at times and are powered only by the battery. Since you can have the HV Mode indicator and the EV indicator appearing on the display at the same time, then clearly the EV indidicator is not referring to EV mode.

    This can be seen more clearly by comparing with the Honda Insight since they both use essentially the same i-MMD system. Clarity defaults to EV mode on startup thus there is no EV button or EV Mode indicator, only an HV button and HV mode indicator. A regular hybrid like the Insight on the other hand defaults to HV mode, and so there is an EV button and an EV Mode indicator. But hybrids still have a separate EV indicator for EV propulsion. Imagine how confusing it is for a new Honda Insight owner to deal with two EV indicators which are located next to each other:

    Insight EV buttons.JPG

    I'm sure this is perplexing to a new owner who hasn't read the manual yet and found out that one refers to EV propulsion and the other refers to EV Mode.

    Insight EV buttons manual.JPG

    Notice the similarity of the EV propulsion indicator in the above graphic to the Clarity EV indicator,

    EV indicator.png

    and the similarity of the Insight's EV mode indicator to the HV mode indicator in Clarity

    HV indicator.png

    I actually think in some ways the Insight added to the confusion by putting the two indicators next to each other, making it harder to remember which one is which. Again with Clarity I don't know if it was intentional, but separating them perhaps helps understand that they are two different things.
  5. bill_m

    bill_m Member

  6. bill_m

    bill_m Member

    Nice elucidation. But I guess it is a matter of taste. I find having HV icon show up in the middle of nowhere, another random PostIt note on the Clarity bulletin board, instead of being one icon within a specific region with all the other running indicators, may not be terribly elucidating to everyone.
  7. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    I think personally I would like the HV indicator more front and center instead of off to the side, but that area is already filled up I guess, because they don't seem to have room to permanently show EV range which is what I would like, on the main display it only appears when "Range" is selected on the display.
    Louis Nisenbaum likes this.
  8. MPower

    MPower Well-Known Member

    My 2012 Prius Plugin had the same distinction. There was an area on the screen that showed the drivers choice of ECON or HV (or SPORT which I never used) and another area that showed the car's decision of how it was going to implement my orders.
  9. bill_m

    bill_m Member

    It is interesting though that Honda felt the notions were sufficiently close and sufficiently important that they are prominently described in the same instructive paragraph in the Owner's Manual (Power Sources Unique to the PHEV, page 4). I think it is a mistake that they did not choose to connect them in display on the screen. So that the display would reinforce the text.
  10. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    That paragraph on page 4 of the Owners Guide (not manual) is one of the most convoluted texts, rivaled only by the paragraph on page 11 of the full Owners Manual which also attempts an overview explanation of i-MMD. Both overview paragraphs are filled with vague statements and use terminology that is sometimes inconsistent with the rest of the manuals.

    I don't really have an opinion one way or the other whether the two icons should be together, I was only pointing out that the two icons are inherently confusing since most people probably think that both indicate mode selection, when only one does, and it may be that the reason they are separated on the display is to help people realize that.

    What would be far better in my opinion is to make the following improvements to the icons:

    - Add an EV Mode icon

    - Show the HV Mode icon even when in "forced" HV mode (when EV range is 0).

    - Instead of the current EV drive indicator, which essentially indicates that ICE is not running, instead replace it with an engine icon which appears whenever ICE is running.

    Below are screen mockups of what I am suggesting. The column "Display 1" is what I suggest as the ideal icon method. However some might not be in favor of getting rid of the standard EV drive indicator icon. So in the column "Display 2" I show an alternate method similar to my proposal except keeping the EV icon. I am not in favor of this because it is not intuitive that the EV icon is not a mode but instead indicates whether or not ICE is running. The Display 2 method would also repeat the confusing situation in the Insight where two "EV" icons can appear simultaneously at times, the one on the left indicating EV drive, the one on the right indicating EV mode.

    Insight EV buttons.JPG

    The third column "Current" is how the icons appear in Clarity for each of the driving situations.

    Modes - EV.png
    Modes - HV.png
    Modes - HV forced.png
    Modes - HV Charge.png
  11. MajorAward

    MajorAward Active Member

    Spock approved. Throw in persistent HV over stops and starts, and I'm happy.
  12. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    Would that be something different than what I show in the first column?
  13. MajorAward

    MajorAward Active Member

    What I meant is, If I have the car in HV mode, I want it to stay in HV mode after I stop for gas. That would allow me to get rid of the post-it note I have now taped on, since it wants to fall off. I like your layout much better than Honda's, just wish it was real.
  14. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    I agree since it is a selection that the driver purposely made and there is no reason for it to assume that just because you shut off the car you no longer want to be in HV mode. Probably this was decided by the same guy who decided that if you shut off the car you no longer want to be in Sport mode (and you no longer want to use LKAS or Brake Hold either).

    The exception would be if the car was in forced HV mode due to 0 EV range when you shut off the car, then you charged, in that case when you start the car it should default to EV mode which is what most people will want it to do. Now there could in theory be a situation where someone is on a trip and runs out of EV range, charges at their hotel or charge station, but wants to resume the trip in HV mode, I would say in that case they will just have to remember to press the HV button when starting out.
  15. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    IMHO, @bill_m’s “random Post-it note” observation is a valid analogy and I vote for @2002’s suggested icon changes with a more logical placement. I also agree that the manual is rather obtuse, confusing, and not well aligned with the DII when it comes to Modes and Power Sources. Honda really dropped the ball on this. OTOH, maybe Honda made all this uninformative on purpose, figuring that the unwashed masses just want to get in and drive (and screw all us intelligent and inquisitive folks).

    It was fairly confusing to me at first and I’m a science guy. Many thanks to @insightman who I think was the first to straighten the Modes out for us and to all who followed like @2002, @Groves Cooke, and many more I can’t remember. Just keep repeating to yourself, “There is no pure EV Mode”.

    I could accept all the manual and icon lack of “clarity” if they would just give me an unambiguous and more easily noticed indication on the main DDI that the engine is on. The one on the info-tainment screen is just too easy to miss. And how about icons for when it’s running the engine for a System Check or the limited regen/full battery scenario?

    And my quote for the day...
    “If wishes were fishes, we'd all cast nets.”
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  16. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    Resetting HV and SPORT Mode when the Clarity is powered down could possibly be two of the many things Honda had to do to achieve an EPA rating of 42 mpg.
  17. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    It is my understanding that the EPA does not allow any special settings to be engaged before testing. In other words, the tests begin with the default setting or what you get when you turn the product on. This is why my Samsung Energy Star dryer starts out in Normal with Eco Dry mode right after hitting the power button and I have to manually override it. That’s the only way it could get the Energy Star rating.
  18. I’ve mentioned this before, but it would seem logical to present remaining EV and HV miles right by the “gauges”. That would free up the display in front of the driver for those like me who like to see the remaining miles there.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  19. bill_m

    bill_m Member

    I always enjoy your thoughtful and thorough remarks. Yes, thanks for catching that slip up: should have written Owner's Guide, that which comes with the car, rather than the Owner's Manual. My comments are qualified towards trying to answer questions such as why is the superior Clarity not as popular as the less advanced Prius Prime? And my hypothesis is that the instrument panel forms a messy user interface that will not inspire confidence for the average, non-knowledgeable buyer.

    I have no background or experience with hybrids or BEV's, my last car being a 2003 Honda Accord. So, I am not conditioned to inquire what kind of Volt is the Clarity? or what kind of Prius? And thus I am not confused by slight differences in semantics of EV vs HV from one some other background to the Clarity: when I read the introductory distinction between the EV and HV in the owner's guide, I accepted the different explanations as sufficient distinctions without worrying about the exact semantic boundaries of the notions. So, please accept the speculations below as not particularly evidence based, but merely speculative.

    I was concerned with the distinctions in, say, mental ergonomics between the 2-dimensional, messy panel of the Clarity and the more linear form of the panel on the Prius Prime, which has a straight row of icons, easily parsed linearly. One doesnt need to search in 2-dimensions to find the PostIt Note in the 2-d picture. I think a potential customer would have more confidence to understand the Prius display than the Clarity display, and that may have had an outsized, magnifying effect on buyer decisions.

    I also challenge the idea that display should have messages full of words. Icons should be sufficient if they are effective. Better use of colors would help. And, one could only imagine what would have been created if Honda had summoned their inner Jonathon Ive.
    2002 likes this.

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