Wassup with Sales?

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by MrFixit, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    From the excellent data gathered by this very site (insideevsforum.com), I was looking at the Clarity PHEV sales figures as compared to one of the most similar competitors (Prius Prime). I think the Chevy Volt would be 'more similar' but as we know, the Volt has been discontinued.

    In any event, below are the monthly, and cumulative sales (since the inception of the Clarity PHEV).

    Question for Discussion:

    Why has the Clarity PHEV tanked lately in sales? Last year, there was a very nice growth trend through the end of the year. Now, the latest numbers (May) are down to less than half of what they were at the peak. The Prius also dropped at the end of the year, but is climbing nicely whereas the Clarity is continuing down...

    Anyone understand this? We all know that Honda has done a horrific job of marketing this great car, but what has changed since the end of last year? I'll send updated graphs when the June numbers appear.

  2. Honda is going to have to drop the price,... by quite a bit. Lots of new competition, with lower priced higher range BEVs. I initially looked at the Prime, then Clarity, and the Ioniq PHEVs. The latter would have been my choice of those 3, primarily on price.

    Then started looking at BEVs (larger subsidies),... Ioniq (2020 model), Bolt, new Leaf, Kia Nero and Soul, and finally the Kona. Ended up buying the Kona Ultimate EV, good price, feature rich, long range, and most practical (small SUV). Have had it now for 2 months, and couldn't be happier with my choice.

    Both Honda and Toyota need to really improve their PHEV pricing or the sales will crater over the next couple years. In 2020/21, bunch more new BEVs coming out, and I think that will be the end for PHEVs.
  3. fotomoto

    fotomoto Active Member

    It's the same thing I've seen with every new plug-in release: decent sales at first, followed by a decline. The declines are coming quicker the longer we stay in this continuing cheap gas era. Back when the first Volt, Tesla, and Leaf's were coming out, the pain of $4/gal gas was still fresh in most car buyers mind (remember cash for clunkers?) and sustained sales were more consistent. Although not affecting Honda ATM, the lowering of tax credits probably isn't helping either.

    The Model 3 is an awesome car with some really cool features so it has pretty strong legs under it but I predict a sales decline in the US for it too. Talk of the 400,000+ waiting list vanish quite a while ago. We'll see.
  4. fotomoto

    fotomoto Active Member

    First, Toyota has a lot of (deserved) street cred built up from decades of Prius sales and a pretty loyal customer base. Next, Toyota has been putting a lot of cash on the hood to move the Prime that combine with the tax credit makes them cheaper than a regular prius. Unless you need 5 seats, the Prime is a simply a better deal assuming you can look at it. :eek: (ducks and runs)
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  5. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    Most of us here would probably agree that having virtually double the EV range of the Prime is a substantial advantage for the Clarity.
    How do you think the bottom like price compares right now (considering current tax credits and incentives)? I still think the Clarity is a good deal, but not really tuned into the Prime.
  6. Lowell_Greenberg

    Lowell_Greenberg Active Member

    Supply. For example in Portland, Oregon- many dealers have no stock. This was not true at end of 2018.

    There is no reason the Clarity can't compete with the Prius Prime. As for the Model 3- there is still a substantial price difference- and I have no doubt some prefer a PHEV to a BEV.

    So maybe the better question is- why no supply?

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
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  7. Mowcowbell

    Mowcowbell Active Member

    Demand (or lack thereof). Southwest US. Nearest dealer to me that has any Clarity models in stock is in Dallas over 220 miles away. And those are leftover 2018's. PHEV's and BEV's just aren't in demand in the land of the Tahoe and F-150 with gas prices hovering just over $2 gallon.
  8. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    Some of it may be due to the fact that to a buyer in the first half of the year the tax credit seems far, far away, but if buying later in the year they know they will have the tax credit in their pocket soon, so if they are deciding between another car and Clarity, the tax incentive looms larger in their mind towards the end of the year. That could help explain the spike in December followed by the sharp dropoff in January. Not the only factor but maybe one of them.

    I don't think it's that dire. The argument for PHEV is very strong, it's just that the general public (and media) don't get it yet. After purchasing my Clarity I am beginning to realize just how difficult it would be for many people to own a BEV, not just because of the range limit, which would be for real not a game like it is for us, but also because of how difficult it would be to survive with just Level 1 charging (most couldn't). This forces a need for Level 2 which to the average consumer is a confusing and daunting swamp to wade through. Just follow some of the threads on this and other forums to get an idea how confusing it is for most people.

    The EV crowd will dismiss this as being "weak" and argue that range anxiety is all in the mind you just have to manage your miles, be aware of charge stations, etc. And Level 2 installation is no brainer. To them yes, and also to many of us. But again not to the average consumer. But if you can tell someone they can drive an electric car, but they can plug it into their normal wall outlet, and that while the electric range is more limited than a BEV, it is not a hard stop if you run out as the car will automatically switch to gas. This seemingly simple message I believe just has not yet soaked in to the public's mindset. For one simple reason:

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  9. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    Our most compelling reason for going with the PHEV instead of a BEV is the fact that we intended to use it as our 'only' vehicle. As you allude, it is like the wild west trying to charge a BEV when operating on a trip away from home. As such, I would not consider a BEV [right now] unless I also had an ICE vehicle for use when away from home. The PHEV allowed us to avoid that. Our 'second' vehicle is a pickup truck, but rarely used only for utility purposes, and we didn't want the 3rd vehicle.

    So, I agree that the PHEV is very relevant and still has some legs going forward.
  10. fotomoto

    fotomoto Active Member

    My guess since I don't know the actual sales numbers is Honda doesn't need to sell that many PHEV/BEV's to meet CAFE requirements since Honda doesn't have nor sells a lot of trucks and really large SUV's.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
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  11. fargledaer

    fargledaer New Member

    I bought my Clarity from a fairly large Honda dealership this month, and the sales staff didn't know much about the car at all. They didn't keep the ones they had charged, and even when I gave them a day's notice that I wanted to test drive one charged, they had not figured out how to charge it when I got there (??), so I had to come back another day. The salesperson I worked with to do the purchase didn't even know about the tax credit. He said that no customers had ever asked him about the Clarity, and that the sales team was instructed to push the Insight to anyone who asked about a fuel efficient vehicle. He said he did not understand why anyone would buy a Clarity over an Insight or Accord until I told him about the tax credit, and then I think it clicked for him.

    I don't think it's a problem unique to Honda. When I was shopping, I checked the local Toyota, Kia, and Hyundai dealers, and none had a single plug-in on the lot for 3-4 months straight, nor knew if they were getting any.

    So basically, it is no surprise that something that isn't advertised and isn't available to test drive isn't selling. The only explanation for this situation is that manufacturers don't want to sell a lot of PHEVs yet. If they did, they would make more of them and market them better.

    Why they don't want to make and sell them could have many reasons. Off the top of my head:
    1. They don't consider the plug-in hybrid systems ready for mass-market yet, and want to sell them for a few years in low volume to work out the bugs while the fleet is small.
    2. They are in no hurry to sell more PHEVs because the more they sell, the faster the tax credit dries up, giving their competitors who haven't sold 200,000 units a comparative advantage. I suspect this is the primary reason the Volt was discontinued. (At least in the US markets, although the current political party in charge is fairly hostile toward anything that doesn't burn guzzoline, and especially foreign-made products that don't burn guzzoline, so they may not be counting on the tax credit sticking around over the next few years anyway.)
    3. They think either full electric vehicles or some other disruptor like hydrogen fuel that can actually be produced economically and cleanly are the future, and PHEVs are a transitory technology not worth investing in for the long-haul.
    4. The global battery supply chain is so constrained right now that they just can't make very many PHEVs (or BEVs for that matter).

    I am just a dumb armchair internet person, though. This is mostly blind speculation, but I am pretty convinced that it's lack of marketing and inventory to blame for PHEV sales, and not that the products themselves are unpalatable to consumers.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
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  12. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    Sadly, your story is the norm. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I can't recall a single story from the forum where a sales person understood the vehicle, was able to extol the virtues, or even presented a prospective customer with a charged vehicle. This is a major shortcoming that Honda (and apparently the others) need to address somehow. All you hear about in the news is electric electric, electric, yet NONE are prepared to "sell" anything that deviates from the 100 year old paradigm... Extremely disappointing.
  13. DaleL

    DaleL Active Member

    I just checked the inventory of the three dealers nearest to me. There is just one 2018 Clarity PHEV Touring; just one at one dealership. Honda has lease and finance deals on just about every other Honda vehicle, but significantly not the Clarity. When I bought my Clarity last year, Honda had a 0.9% interest deal. I think that Honda is discontinuing the Clarity PHEV.
  14. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    I think that's a good point, Toyota seems to be quite continually aggressive with incentives on the Prime in the ZEV states on both coasts.

    You mentioned the looks of the Prime, actually many people including myself think the Prime looks much better than the standard Prius :eek: (ducks and runs)

    Just as many people think the Accord looks better than Clarity :eek: (ducks and runs in the other direction)
  15. fargledaer

    fargledaer New Member

    One of the reasons I jumped in this year is that I also suspect the Clarity will be discontinued soon, given that there are about 3x as many 2018s for sale as 2019s in the ~200mi radius around me even in the 6th month of 2019.
  16. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    It's the opposite in ZEV states last time I checked a few weeks ago, almost exclusively 2019's, 2018's are nearly impossible to find. Not sure where the 2018's went if they were cleared out with incentives or moved to non-ZEV states.

    Does your 200 radius search include both ZEV and non-ZEV states? If you narrow it down that's probably where most of the 2019's are.
  17. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    I'm showing 17 Clarity's within 100 miles [Maryland]. 12 of these are 2018, and 5 are 2019.

    Just for fun if you go to cars.com and ask it to show you all the new Clarity's within "All MIles", it shows 859 of them.. 266 are 2018, and 593 are 2019. I assume this is anywhere in the US, but not sure if cars.com is totally comprehensive.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
  18. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    But again that's not by state. Some ZEV states have more than others because the CARB credits are based on gasser sales in the individual states, so my general statement about ZEV states holds true but it depends on the state. Keeping in mind that I am replying to a comment about there being three times as many 2018's as 2019's, my point is that it depends on the state.

    Your Baltimore 100 mile is skewed by Virginia which is an aberration, it's a ZEV state but it has almost all 2018's

    A Baltimore 100 mile search breaks down like this:

    State, 2018, 2019
    MD 6, 7
    VA 7, 1

    Hartford, CT 100 mile has 202 results:

    State, 2018, 2019
    NY 6, 91
    CT 9, 28
    NJ 0, 7
    MA 22, 33
    RI 3, 3

    I don't think the residents of NY, CT and NJ are more electrically predisposed than their neighbors, there is something going on in those states driven by CARB credits, although state tax breaks can factor in as well.

    I wish it was easier to get results by state instead of miles, I have to pull the search data into Excel and sort it, unless there is another data source of cars on the lot by state that would be nice.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
  19. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    It's hard for me to believe that Honda is tinkering around with CARB credits by using such a low volume vehicle as the Clarity.
    it seems like it would be needle in a haystack no matter what they did with distributions.
  20. 2002

    2002 Well-Known Member

    They only have to sell a percentage of plugin cars in each ZEV state compared to total sales for that state. It's a little more complex than that but that's the simplest way to understand it. If they hit the CARB targets it can mean a lot of money to the car makers. Thus $6,000 incentives and the like in those states, but not others. Prius Prime has been as high as $5,000 factory incentive in some ZEV states, lower in other ZEV states, and zilcho in non-ZEV states. Would-be Prius Prime purchasers in non-ZEV states lament about the lack of cars and incentives, just like Clarity.
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