If Clarity succeeds in the market, only the engineers should be credited, not the marketing people

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Texas22Step, Oct 8, 2018.

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  1. Texas22Step

    Texas22Step Well-Known Member

    I had the pleasure of going to the huge State Fair of Texas in Dallas this weekend. This fair has been an annual event since around 1886, originally attracting a few thousand attendees yearly and now attracting some 2.2 million people over a 24-day run each Autumn.

    A big element of the annual fair is the well-attended Texas Auto Show. As a new owner of a Honda Clarity PHEV (June 2018), I walked through the auto show yesterday, found that Honda had its usual significant presence there, and wanted to talk "Clarity" with the Honda reps there. But, despite having a dozen or so shiny new Hondas to show off to the public, they managed to completely omit the Clarity from the show altogether.

    Having owned 3 different Accords over the years and personally having a very high opinion of the new Clarity as a marvel of engineering and economy, as well as performance and packaging, to me it was beyond the pale not to show -- much less feature -- the Clarity to a buying public of some 2+ million people threading through this auto show.

    (I have no idea if they showed or featured the Clarity at other car shows this year, but my suspicion is that they did not.)

    We read over and over again in this forum that the Honda dealers and their sales staff by and large have little product knowledge themselves about the Clarity. We also know that Honda USA has not robustly marketed this great vehicle either.

    The only sad conclusion I can draw is that the Honda engineers in Japan did a great job with Clarity PHEV, but the marketing side of Honda USA remains fully focused on pushing ICE Iron out the door.
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  3. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Honda had 3 Claritys at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year. I attended one of the press days, when actual Honda corporate people are there to answer questions. The Clarity "specialist" couldn't answer simple questions about how the modes work. She promised to find answers to my questions and get back to me via email, but never did. I often wonder if anyone in the marketing department of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., knows anything about this wonderful car?
  4. bpratt

    bpratt Active Member

    A friend of my brothers who sells for a Honda dealership told me they were told not to push the Clarity because it requires very little service. He said the largest income producer for the dealer was service.
    jdonalds likes this.
  5. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    I believe it. I also think there is a salesperson and sales-manager component. They know ICE cars and are comfortable with them. The Clarity can bring up too many questions which doesn't fit the prescription for the sales -> customer well polished interface.
  6. V8Power

    V8Power Active Member

    Not right but understandable. Also helps explain why Tesla has invested lighter on their service side. Thanks for sharing.
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  8. kcsunshine

    kcsunshine Active Member

    My salesperson was clueless about the clarity and quoted false information about the incentives. I challenged him at least twice and the manager corrected him.

    I think dealerships should assign one salesperson who is techie to sell the clarity.
    Randy Stegbauer likes this.
  9. V8Power

    V8Power Active Member

    Or hire people who care enough about doing a good job to make some time to inform themselves about the product they're trying to sell!
    Randy Stegbauer likes this.
  10. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    What a novel idea!

    I taught my salesperson everything about the Clarity, then he left the Honda dealership for the Mini dealership. I guess he didn't think he'd get rich selling Claritys.
  11. Ray B

    Ray B Active Member

    I wonder if this quiet approach by Honda on the Clarity PHEV is in part due to a capacity limitation from the battery manufacturer (Blue Energy), meaning they can only make a certain number of EV batteries and perhaps they are concentrating on a newer iteration and any scale-up would focus on the next generation of battery. I believe this version of the battery technology/design is at least a few years old. Thus Honda has a limited number of Clarity's targeted for North America as they dip their toe in the water before committing to a larger scale PHEV/BEV approach.

    Just speculating.
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  13. V8Power

    V8Power Active Member

    In Canada at least, Honda didn't require expensive advertising to sell their allocated inventory by about June.
    KentuckyKen likes this.
  14. lanb

    lanb Active Member

    I think the Clarity PHEV also has a lower profit margin compared to their bread and butter Accord at this time, due to the battery cost and
    more standard equipment.
  15. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    It would be very interesting to know Honda's profit margin on the Clarity PHEV. The way many dealers ignore the Clarity PHEV, one might wonder if Honda offers them any profit margin at all.
  16. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    All I can say is that my dealer made enough money to give me a $100 referral check when somebody bought one after talking to me at our National Drive Electric week event. But I bet they’ve figured out there wil be way less profit on maintenance on our Claritys.
    insightman likes this.
  17. mattheo0118

    mattheo0118 Member

    I was told from a good friend inside of Honda corporate that they dont advertise the Clarity because they are pretty much breakeven on each sold in the US. The economy of scale is not there yet for them to be profitable because they're trying to fine tune the technology before it's spreads to other models. In America, the Clarity is price lower than they would like in order to compete with other plug-ins on the market. He said in Japan, these car sells for almost $50k and that this price is what they would've like to charge in the US to maintain the regular profit margin.

    To be honest, I don't think anyone would pay more than a 42k MSRP for a Touring ... I think if Honda made this a better looking car (like a tesla) they possibly could have commanded more money. Or turned it into an Acura to justify the 42-50k price tag.

    I really like my Clarity, it's a nice car to drive and the interior is pleasant to be in.. I just hate the way it looks... To be frank, without the tax credits and rebates, I probably would've never bought this car because of how ugly it is. With the credits and rebates, it's hard not to buy this car... I was in the market for an Acura RLX hybrid before I bought this. If this technology was in an Acura RLX, I would've paid extra for it. That's just me though.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  18. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I've been claiming Honda's not making any money on the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid for a while, but haven't gotten much agreement. As with my gen-1 Insight, I believe Honda's selling these cars at a bargain and not advertising them to get early adopters to be beta testers before going big-time with the technology. Just as the limited-production gen-1 Insight was the beta tester for the mass-production Civic Hybrid, it will be interesting to see how the upcoming Pilot Plug-In Hybrid will be priced. I'm betting it will be expensive.

    As for the ugliness of the Clarity, I didn't like its looks when the Clarity Fuel Cell was unveiled. Then I decided the front end of the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid was a little better looking when that car was unveiled. Now, after owning the car, driving it, and hand-washing it for 10 months, I think it looks pretty good. No Tesla, mind you, but a car built to perform a task and a car that doesn't look like any other car on the road. It certainly performs its task better than any other car on the road.

    However, I'm in love with the looks of Honda's little Urban EV and have been writing letters (in vain, I'm sure) to get Honda to sell that car in North America instead of only Europe. It's gorgeous! I hope its designer, the brilliant Yuki Terai, gets to design a car I can buy, if not the Urban EV.

  19. Mark W

    Mark W Active Member

    There has been no other car maker other than Tesla that has shown that they are really motivated to sell BEVs or PHEVs. So, it's not just Honda. Hyundai/Kia have designed many appealing cars/SUVs that people would like to buy, but they are unwilling to sell them in any volume outside of CA. People have many theories as to why this is, many have been discussed in this thread. One thing is obvious. If they had the ability to make money selling Claritys by marketing them better or training salespeople better, they would. They sell 25,000 Acords per month, and sell 1,500 Clarity's per month, probably 800 outside CA. Most dealers probably 0 or 1 Clarity per month. No surprise salespeople don't know the car. Everything is driven by money. Hopefully, battery technology improves soon to make batteries cheaper so that car makers can make more money from them.

    The whole issue of the lack of Service revenue from EVs is a very interesting one though.
  20. mattheo0118

    mattheo0118 Member

    I wonder how many new car buyers brings their cars unti the dealership to service their vehicle. Outside if of warranty repair, I've always serviced my cars myself, anything that I can't do, I bring it to a reputable independent mechanic that specialize in Honda. Bringing it to the dealership for service is just too expensive.

    My first two oil changed for the Clarity is free so that should be good for two years
  21. lanb

    lanb Active Member

    I don't think the dealers are taking a hit (other than less sales), it is Honda taking the hit for some "green" points and testing out the concept/engineering.

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