Made my first long trip and I have a few observations

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by loomis2, Jun 15, 2018.

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  1. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    My trip was from Cincinnati to Williamsburg, Virginia, so the drive went through the mountains of WV and Virginia, with most of the trip between 60-75mph.

    On the drive there I tried to keep some ev juice available for steep inclines which meant I was doing a lot of switching between ev, hv, and hv charge. On the drive home I lapsed a bit at the start and used up my battery pretty quickly, which brings me to my first quibble: HV CHARGE DOES NOTHING AFTER YOUR EV RANGE HITS 0. It doesn't matter how much you run in hv charge mode, nor how much downhill driving you do, your battery meter doesn't go above the two bars. Why is that?

    My other quibble isn't drivetrain related, but rather a complaint with the head unit. I was traveling with my family and I wanted to run Google Maps with Android Auto, but I also wanted to listen to my stuff through headphones so no one else would have to listen to my stuff. Unfortunately, plugging in to the usb plug to run Maps requires bluetooth to be on so I couldn't use my bluetooth earbuds. No problem, I can use my traditional earbuds. Nope. If my phone is plugged in then sound is coming out the cars speakers whether I like it or not. Fine, I'll just unplug the phone and run Maps on my phone screen. Nope again. My phone kept starting and then crashing the Android Auto app, and each time it did it closed Maps so I had to restart my navigation over and over again. I didn't even want Android Auto to be on but I couldn't keep it from starting. This continued until I finally turned bluetooth off on the phone. Only then was I able to listen on my regular earbuds and have Maps running on my phone without any problems with Android Auto.

    As a final note I should mention that when I filled up with gas in the mountains of WV with a depleted battery I averaged 48 mpg on the drive home. Not too shabby! Also, on one particularly long and steep climb through the mountains I experienced the cars engine struggling to make the hill and I started losing speed towards the top. Also, my battery meter went from two bars to one, which I hadn't seen before. My 2010 Prius did the same thing on really long hills, though, and it is a smaller car than the Clarity. It only happened the one time. Overall the Clarity kept up very well, and the driver assist/adaptive cruise was awesome!
    Sandroad, Domenick and Viking79 like this.
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  3. Viking79

    Viking79 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the write up. HV charge should work, but that explains why it didn't work the night I bought the car. Figured it might be cold related. If it dosen't work after EV range goes zero, that should be a bug.

    Mountains are exactly why you want this, and why you lost power with the depleted battery. You would usually use that mode to charge some before hitting the mountains.
    Johnhaydev likes this.
  4. iluvscuba

    iluvscuba Active Member

    Just a comment, when I test drive the Clarity in late Jan where the temp was around -10C and the EV range was around 5km. I did use the EV charge mode (on the freeway) and after about 10 min, the EV range went up to around 11km so I can test drive the car in EV mode
  5. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    Yes. On the drive down I kept using ev charge before the range went to 0 to keep the battery charged. On the way back it hit 0 while going up a hill and I was unable to get it back after that.
  6. Domenick

    Domenick Administrator Staff Member

    Is there much gain to be had from switching modes like that? Like, if you left it in HV charge, you would have all the battery grunt you would need for the hills, would you not?

    Also, 48 mpg is pretty awesome. Wish other large vehicles would similar systems.
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  8. megreyhair

    megreyhair Active Member

    Are you sure you were in HV charge mode? I was down to 0 miles and HV charge did charge my batt up to half. You have to press and HOLD the button to switch to HV charge mode. Just pressing the button will only bring you to HV mode which will just hold the charge in the batt but won't charge it.
    Johnhaydev likes this.
  9. bobcubsfan

    bobcubsfan Active Member

    Why would one want to use HV Charge mode? That uses gas to charge the battery. What is the point? Did a drive recently where I knew there was not enough battery to go the distance. Using HV mode got the job done. The car switched from gas to EV as needed.
    LAF likes this.
  10. lordsutch

    lordsutch Member

    HV Charge mode is basically the same idea as what's more intuitively called "Mountain Mode" on the Volt; it allows you to build up a battery reserve while running on gas before you get to a lengthy climb, so you don't experience power loss from depleting the battery while going uphill. Having some reserve battery charge probably would also help with the loss of power that's been reported while running on gas at high altitude.
    AlanSqB likes this.
  11. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    Yes, this is why I did it, and it does make a difference. I wouldn't use it for normal drives if I had a long trip, but only if there are hills. And I'm not talking just hills, I'm talking HILLS! The ones where semis have to travel in the right lane with their hazards on because they can only go 30mph HILLS! When the engine starts really straining it is really nice to turn off hv mode and run up on pure battery power instead, but it also drains the battery really fast and I ran out prematurely. Then hv charge mode wouldn't bring it back. I want to try the drive again and experiment some more. I had never taken that particular route through the mountains before but if you know what to expect you can save the battery for the really hard hills.
    Domenick likes this.
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  13. ab13

    ab13 Active Member

    The EV battery range is going to be for typical local/highway cruise on flat ground, which probably only needs 30 horsepower or so. Climbing uphill will need over 100 horsepower, so the range would drop significantly.
    Johnhaydev likes this.
  14. clarityplugin

    clarityplugin New Member

    The best mode for steep mountain driving is HV regular mode + enough battery charge. Pure EV will drain the battery too quickly. And pure gas (empty battery) will be loud and potentially unable to maintain higher speeds. In HV regular mode, the car will use only gas most of the time, but will use both EV + gas when it detects extra power is required, such as steep hills.

    When I do long road trips, I only use HV regular mode for freeway driving. I consider the EV charge a limited resource I need to save for hills and city driving.
    VTSAX and Domenick like this.
  15. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    Next time I will only use ev for when the engine is REALLY straining. I was being a little too generous with the battery usage and it bit me. The Clarity still performed extremely well.
  16. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    We took our first long (3.5 hours round trip) in our Clarity today and it went really well. Nice car! The ICE ran perfectly in HV mode the drivetrain operated as expected. We pushed all the buttons and played with all the settings and learned what we could about the features.

    The Michigan roads proved to be too much for the tires, which were noisy and constantly slapped failing expansion joints in the concrete. That got tiresome (ha, ha). One of my pet peeves is using concrete for roads in Michigan, so don't get me started........

    We did have a failure. At one point the infotainment screen froze completely and was non-responsive. After a few minutes, it did a self-reboot that brought back all the functions, but that was frustrating. As I've said many times to anyone who will listen........Given how poorly the infotainment/navigation/interface systems operate and update in cars nowadays, I can't believe manufacturers consider themselves capable of developing self-driving vehicles.
    leehinde and Domenick like this.
  17. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    The worst part is before it was easy to put in an aftermarket unit if you wanted more features. Everything is tied into these infotainment screens now so they can't be replaced. I would love to put an Android Auto unit in my '13 Leaf but I would lose things, like pre-heating the cabin in the winter.
  18. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    Our Clarity has always recharged from two bars when we put it in HV Charge mode.
  19. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    I thought it would but after a few minutes of downhill driving in hv charge mode without any positive change, not even a .1 increase in ev range, it seemed like the car was going to stay like that. If I would have put it in hv charge mode with a few miles of ev range remaining it would have worked. Maybe it was the high altitude and terrain that was stressing the engine too much, even when there were downhill sections. Every time I drove down a long downhill section where the meter went into the green recharge section I would watch my ev range to see if it would raise even a fraction above 0.0 and it never did. If it did I would have started hv charge mode again.
  20. kcsunshine

    kcsunshine Active Member

    I just did a drive around a town with some hilly local roads and I was disappointed. I tried to use the HV charge mode to bring up the charge before arriving. I got 5 bars when I arrived. It was quickly used up and I felt the Clarity was struggling with the hills. It was sometimes noisy. I had the car in sport mode. My leg was tired of stomping on the accelerator pedal. After I left, the Clarity was much better on longer roads. Sometimes it will give a burst of speed on the highway if I step on it. The Clarity is good as a commuter car but it leaves much to be desired on more challenging roads. I miss my V6 gas guzzling car.
  21. jorgie393

    jorgie393 Active Member

    Lots of different driving styles. Sorry to hear you are having hill trouble. I will add (and I think you know this, but for the general forum) that I'm not surprised that, once the battery fell from 5 bars ("quickly used up") that the engine alone couldn't handle the hills. As you know, Clarity's modest engine can only handle uphills well when it can readily draw on the battery to provide extra power for the uphills....and once battery is low, you are out of luck. Then the engine has to race just to try to get close to what you are asking of it.

    I might suggest trying the same drive, but with a much fuller battery on entry, to see how it goes. Let us know if you do, and how it feels then.

    My interpretation of HV Charge mode is that it requires some planning. Continuous uphills will always cause you to run a battery deficit, as you need battery power to supplement the modest engine. As I understand it, HV Charge is designed to be turned on before hitting the hills (aka "mountain mode") so that you hit the mountains with plenty of charge--in your case, more than 5 bars since that wasn't enough-- and to be left on until you cross the top of the range (so that even during brief level stretches, the engine runs to replenish the battery before the next uphill, instead of staying off). I predict that this will keep the engine running at a lower max RPM, and be more pleasant to the ear, while still giving you power to go up the steep hills. Welcome other thoughts.
    KentuckyKen, insightman and Domenick like this.
  22. loomis2

    loomis2 Well-Known Member

    What I did on my trip out was keep the battery charged up and then when the engine started revving up on hills I would turn off hv mode and climb the hill on straight battery power, nice and silent. It works with a lot of switching between hv, hv charge, and ev, which isn't for everybody. I'm sure just keeping it in straight hv mode for any long trip will be sufficient for most long drives. I just liked keeping the engine from revving high whenever I could. I should have saved the battery just for that one long and steep hill where the car started slowing down at the top, but I didn't know the route so I didn't know that hill was there.
  23. jpkik96

    jpkik96 Member

    All -

    I am very interested in this discussion as I am in the process of leasing a Clarity Touring as a family car for mostly local town trips and live at near the summit of a 550 ft mountain range. Its about 1/2 - 1 mile from the base to the summit and we drive it every day to get to/from home. Definitely not as challenging as West Virginia Mountains but still makes me wonder if my wife and I are returning home in the Clarity with a nominal charge how it would perform. The other car I was considering was the Accord Hybrid EXL or Touring (I prefer the sunroof and Infotainment setup) but really liked the powertrain aspect of the Clarity with the 47 mile electric range. I realize the electric range will likely be less for us given where we live but would appreciate owner thoughts on their car navigating a 500ft+ hill 1-3x on a daily basis.

    Thank you in advance for your review and reply!
    Johnhaydev likes this.

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