CNET's Roadshow Takes a New Look at the Clarity PHEV

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by insightman, Dec 30, 2019.

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  1. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    This Roadshow review of the Clarity PHEV gets a little off-track by comparing it to the Crosstrek PHEV. They concede it's one of the longest range PHEVs without listing any you can buy that exceed the Clarity's 47 mile EV range.

    Their conclusion:
    For those looking to just dip their toe into the electrified lifestyle, the spacious, efficient and humble Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is a surprisingly good choice.
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  3. Danks

    Danks Active Member

    They also said that the Clarity "is a surprisingly practical gateway into the electrified lifestyle for those not ready (or able) to make the full-electric plunge."

    That is where the Clarity fits for me. I don't see the full-electric system ready for distance driving. We do greater than electric vehicle distance often enough to put us in the plug-in hybrid. I find it is a good stepping-stone into full EV. I think the market struggle is to hold back on ICE, take a stepping-stone to a PHEV, or try to make a full leap to EV. A full-leap with an only car feels too limiting. I think the stepping-stone makes a lot of sense and if there are PHEV's with Clarity-like range there is a market for them.
    jdonalds, Texas22Step and TomL like this.
  4. Technobody

    Technobody New Member

    Unfortunately Honda is not helping to spread the idea that PHEV's are a good bridge to a full electric future. Their advertising for the Clarity has been abysmal and they have now stopped selling in all 50 states. This from a company that has gone on record saying that EV's are not going to sell in large numbers in the near future. Hard to figure where Honda's head is!
    Al-clarity and insightman like this.
  5. Mowcowbell

    Mowcowbell Well-Known Member

    And would they have published this article if their offices were in some state other than California? I do grow weary of seeing tech reviews of products that are only available in limited areas.
  6. I actually registered on their site to leave a comment taking the author to task for completely omitting the $7,500 federal tax credit from his price discussion.
    Mark W, Tek_Freek and insightman like this.
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  8. Agzand

    Agzand Active Member

    Bottom line is that all electric or electrified cars currently require some compromises, but if someone buys the right car, their benefits outweigh the drawbacks significantly. The compromise could be the range, performance, NVH, price etc. Overal the Clairty PHEV is one of the best options out there.
    Johnhaydev and Texas22Step like this.
  9. Rav

    Rav Member

    LaneWatch can also be kept on permanently for the driving session but I guess the author didn't realize that.
  10. Duxa

    Duxa Member

    For us it was between Model 3 and Clarity. The 9.5k in rebates and 10k lower MSRP, and having a 2014 and 2017 Accord before it (so we knew what it was like for the most part), pushed us over the edge. All other PHEV's had more downsides than Clarity. I do wish Clarity's range was 80 to 100mi on full charge so that it can be charged once a week for the commute. But that will be less and less of a problem as charging infrastructure grows and charging spots wont be limited.

    Still going to pick up a Model 3 later this year, as soon as its clear whats going to happen with pricing now that the rebate is gone. (initial plan was to get two model 3's).
  11. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    The Clarity Plug-In Hybrid doesn't have any empty spaces for a larger battery unless you count the trunk. The Clarity Electric can go 89 miles on a charge, but look at the size of its trunk-robbing 3rd battery chunk--and the Clarity Electric doesn't have room for a gas tank. If you combined the two cars, I'd guess that the weight of the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid's ICE would reduce the EV range of the Clarity Electric's battery to less than 89 miles. Improved battery technology would be the only way to give the PHEV an 80-100-mile EV range.

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
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  13. Duxa

    Duxa Member

    Yeah, I suppose the answer would be more efficient batteries.
    Agzand likes this.
  14. It's all in how the compromises are managed. I believe the tank for the fuel cell model was the most difficult to package so the BEV and PHEV ended up working with the resulting body/chassis design.
    The current mainstream model of the Nissan LEAF houses a 40 kWh battery under the front seats, rear footwell and rear seat. The resulting car is a little on the tall side. The LEAF also notoriously has continued to rely on a passively air cooled battery. This eliminates the complexity and expense of another cooling system in the car but results in a car that doesn't tolerate sequential fast charges and warm ambient temperatures well.
  15. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I believe packaging battery modules underneath the seats is a better way to go than the simple floor-pan slab battery, which forces the whole car to be taller. For cars that need to pack more kWhs, however, the slab is unavoidable. I don't know much about the Leaf and don't understand why its battery under the seats causes it to be taller.

    To me, it seems that Honda's engineers did a good job of adapting the Fuel-Cell platform to become a Plug-In Hybrid. The PHEV is likely more crash-worthy than other similarly sized cars as a result of its Fuel-Cell heritage (although I've never seen any Clarity crash-test results that might prove this assertion). I wish our Clarity PHEV could have been a hatchback, but that wouldn't make sense for the Fuel-Cell version or the BEV, which require greater structural integrity and which wouldn't afford the normal advantages of a hatch due to their limited trunk space.
  16. DucRider

    DucRider Well-Known Member

    Long term, carrying an ICE around in an electric car will make about as much sense as an ICE vehicle always pulling a trailer with a couple of horses "just in case". Manufacturers are not likely to put a lot of time and money into vehicle technology that will have a relatively short shelf life. As battery tech improves, costs drop, and the charging infrastructure fleshes out, fewer and fewer people will be interested in a PHEV over a BEV. PHEV costs are not going to fall anywhere near as fast or as far as BEV vehicles as ICE technology is not getting cheaper, it is getting more complex and expensive as they try and wring additional efficiencies and lower emissions for a mature technology. If a PHEV with 100 mile electric range had a $5K+ premium over a 400+ mile BEV, what do you think the market share would be? I'm not saying that nobody would want one or that it would not be a good choice for some, only that the market share will be a bit of a niche that will require the consumer to pony up more $$ than a pure electric.
    And as to skateboard vs under the seat batteries, the Model S, Model 3, and Taycan are shorter than the Clarity and can be fitted with over 5x the batteries as the Clarity PHEV. The handicap for a PHEV is the need for the gas tank, exhaust system, etc that need to reside in the space that makes the most sense to locate batteries. The skateboard design also brings other benefits to the party - safety and handling characteristics are a couple.
  17. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    The Clarity PHEV battery appears to provide a lower rear-passenger floor than the Leaf battery.

  18. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Actually, only the Model 3 is shorter than the Clarity, but you're right, the ICE-support components take up a lot of space that batteries could use. The Clarity Electric sacrifices its trunk to gain more battery storage without raising the height of the car with a slab-style battery.
  19. I suspect the passive air-cooled Nissan design was less tolerant of extreme "bunching" of cells in contorted shapes.
    insightman likes this.
  20. Agzand

    Agzand Active Member

    In the long term, that is correct. The question is how long is the long term. With current technology, Clarity BEVs additional 8-9 kWh battery weighs about the same as Clarity PHEVs ICE drivetrain. The PHEV with dual drivetrain weight is also similar to Model 3 with single drivetrain (the RWD model 3 is maybe 100lbs lighter, but Clarity is a bigger car). So the PHEV drivetrain doesn't have weight penalty comparing to a larger battery. In terms of cost, an additional 60 kWh battery that makes the car range comparable (e.g. Tesla 75 kWh battery) costs way more than the simple ICE drivetrain of Clarity. An ICE engine doesn't cost more than a few hundred dollars to make.
  21. I owned a Chevrolet Volt for six years and carrying the gasoline drivetrain around wasn't a problem, really. I put about 1,500 gasoline miles on it per year, so I was pretty certain that the spark plugs, air cleaner element and other ICE wear items would significantly outlive me.
    All was on track until someone ran a red light, totaling the car but that clearly was no reflection on the car's virtues.
  22. DucRider

    DucRider Well-Known Member

    I question that statement, but you also need to add in the transmission, fuel tank, fuel pump, exhaust system, catalytic converter, etc.
    The list price on the Clarity block and head (no trans, wiring, pumps, etc) is over $7K. The fuel system is over $1K, the exhaust system over $2K.
    Yes, today a large battery pack will cost more than the ICE system, but battery prices are falling, ICE prices are not, they are increasing. The list price on the Clarity Electric 25.5 kWh pack is $7,671. The Chevy Bolt 60 kWh pack lists for $16K with online OEM parts suppliers selling at <$13K.

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