What's your main reason for buying a Clarity? "Dirty Electric Power"-related

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Rothgarr, Oct 16, 2018.

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  1. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    I don't mean "Why did you pick this over a Volt", I mean why did you want to buy a PHEV?

    I ask because I posted this article in the General Forum:

    One of the main reasons I want the Clarity is because we have solar and I want to reduce our carbon footprint. But after reading the article I searched to see where the batteries are made -- looks like they are made in their Saitama factory in Japan.

    There's no mention of Japan in the article above, so I tried to do my own research and if I'm right, it looks like Japan used 90% fossil fuels in 2010 and 85.5% fossil fuels in 2015. Not sure where they currently stand, but those numbers sound pretty bad. (assuming my numbers above are correct).

    What do you think? Would I be buying the Clarity for the wrong reasons?
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  3. jorgie393

    jorgie393 Active Member

    It's hard to assess, but I don't see a problem. At all. IN fact this looks like a win for PHEVs, and especially for the Clarity.

    The point of the article is that the battery in BEVs is energy-intense to make, and that if it's made with CO2 producing energy sources, this can be a big deal.
    However, this article is about BEVs which are 100% battery powered. The battery in a PHEV is relatively tiny, so therefore the battery emissions "cost" would be a much smaller consideration. (14.4 in the Clarity; 30 in the Leaf; hundreds in the Tesla).

    The second consideration is the amount of CO2 produced by generating the electricity for driving (oand in a PHEV, also the times when you are burning the fuel). The graphs there showing a 10-year break-even emissions point are an BEV of unknown battery size and more to the point are for Germany, which burns a lot of coal to make electricity, so the advantage of the battery-powered vehicle per mile is less. At least in the US, you can decide what your home electrical utility generation source is and (for a relatively small amount of money) can ask for your house's electrical to be mostly or even 100% renewables.

    In that case, then the emissions you generate with a PHEV in driving would be completely related to the amount of time that you spend driving in gas mode vs. electric. That in turn depends on having a battery just big enough to cover most of your routine driving.

    An emissions-minimizing plan, then, would be to select a utility electrical source that is renewable home electrical power, and to buy a car that has a battery just big enough to cover most of your daily driving (to minimize the battery-production emissions), then switches to gas only for long trips. Sounds like the Clarity to me.

    [Edit: More important overall, of course, is to buy a new car relatively infrequently, to save the entire production CO2 emissions "cost"].

    [Edit 2: Just noticed you have solar. Therefore, look at the graph showing a 10-year break-even point for a BEV....though for some reason they only show 9 years. But anyway, drop the starting point from 12.4 tons to maybe 9-10 tons or less (to account for the smaller battery in a Clarity vs. a full BEV), and draw the line nearly flat across (to reflect the fact that most of your driving will be powered by clean solar, except for long trips). Looks like a break-even at 1.5 years or so to me, at worst. And that is versus an unspecified "efficient" combustion car).
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
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  4. Tahuna

    Tahuna Member

    For me, clean vs dirty energy wasn't the issue. There are a few things that prompted me to go with a PHEV. First, I get free charging at work. Second, when I charge at home, the cost for 50 miles of charge is cheaper than for 50 miles of gas. Third, I hate gas stations - hate sitting in line waiting for a pump, hate pumping fuel. Fourth, I hate getting in the car and realizing that I'm going to be late because I have to stop for gas on the way. My car charges over night and is always ready to go in the morning. And finally, I like the cool sound it makes. :)
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  5. Ray B

    Ray B Active Member

    I will try to answer more fully later, but for now I can link my posts on the CO2 generated by the Clarity compared to the best available Gasoline-only based car the Insight (~52 mpg).


    I have many LCA papers that compare environmental effects of BEVs, PHEVs and ICE based cars, and all of them seem to estimate that PHEVs use EV for 50 - 62% of the cars lifetime miles, which seems way off for most PHEV owners who are probably more in the 80 - 99% bracket. Several of these headline grabbing stories emphasize electricity in coal burning places like China, Germany, etc., but the situation is very specific to the place where the BEVs/PHEVs get their electricity. The story you linked, to its credit, does give some of those details, but I think people to tend absorb the details that support their view.
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  6. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    Thank you for your insight, folks!

    I was thinking the same thing, that the battery in the Clarity is much smaller than found in an EV-only vehicle so it's less of an issue.

    And my current car is eleven years old and I'll probably wind up giving it to my son so we do keep our cars for quite some time.
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  8. LAF

    LAF Active Member

    While the idea of burning less gas is significant, I think almost everyone driving the Clarity will agree that EV driving is so much better than driving powered by an ICE. A friend said it was like driving on a monorail- smooth and quiet.
  9. PHEV Newbie

    PHEV Newbie Well-Known Member

    For me, it was just the most efficient use of my hard earned money. After the tax credit, state rebate, and dealer discount, the Clarity cost less than $27,000. Where else can you buy a fully loaded mid to full size luxury car for that price? On top of that, my driving style is multiple in-town drives per day. Lots of miles but short trips each. That's the worst situation for ICE engines' fuel efficiency and pollution generation (engine barely has time to warm up each trip) plus wear and tear. On top of that, my electric rates are very low but gas prices are fairly high (PA has the highest gas taxes in the US, even higher than CA!). Compared to driving my Outback, I'm saving about $1200 in fuel costs annually. A PHEV is not a transitional car but the perfect platform for my lifestyle. No other car is more ideal than a PHEV if you care about being smart with your money. After owning it for nearly a year, I would not hesitate to buy the Clarity again even if there was no tax credit. It's that good. If it's good for the environment, that's a bonus.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
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  10. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    I've thought a lot about this question because I've been asked many times. The question relates to both our roof solar and to the PHEV.

    For me it isn't about saving the planet. We do recycle, all of my garden equipment is battery electric. We had two Prius before the Clarity. So indirectly we are doing our part. But we aren't tree-huggers and a pipeline from Canada to Texas seems like a great idea to me.

    It also isn't about saving money. Overall we'd be better off with a Civic if we wanted to save money. We'll never make up the difference in out of pocket costs for the Clarity vs a Civic. While less of a car the Civic would suit our needs quite well.

    So what is it? I've concluded for me it's simply about making a step forward technology wise. When I think of an ICE I'm ashamed that we still use controlled explosions inside engines that waste power through heat and are made of hundreds of components. Yes ICE cars have become amazingly reliable but they are still old dirty technology. To replace that with a battery, controller, and electric motor just seems to be right.

    The same goes for roof solar. Grid power comes to our house by various sources. Sometimes it involves steam fired plants, generators, long power lines on ugly towers, line losses, and political control. To have solar panels on the roof, and an inverter in the garage just seems to be right.

    In the end we may save money due to the combination of the PHEV and roof solar. We drive the car most days for free using power from the sun. The Clarity, added to the house electric demands, actually tips the scales in favor of a shorter pay-back for the roof solar (about 8 years now). Electric grid rates could rise as well as gas prices or gas tax. But the state or feds may impose taxes on electric vehicles to pay for roads offsetting savings. Currently we are saving about $2,500/year vs our 2017 records.

    In the end I REALLY like driving in electric mode and tapping the sun for our home and car. The Prius Hybrid cars were a tease. I'll never go back to a non plug-in. The only thing keeping us from going BEV is the long charge times. If charge times for a 200 mile range car drop below 15 minutes I'd go for a BEV over a PHEV.

    The bonus of the Clarity is it is a really nice car with great features.
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  11. Sandroad

    Sandroad Well-Known Member

    Be careful with your assumption about solar being clean power. It is, but there is no such thing as a "free lunch". Over their lifetime, a solar panel will produce more energy than it takes to make the glass, aluminum frame, wiring, silicone cells in them, but those materials have a significant energy cost as well as carbon cost if made with fossil fuels energy sources. I love my off the grid solar charging station for the Clarity, but I'm aware that making all that "stuff" dumped a lot of carbon into the atmosphere!
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  13. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    Yup! I thought of that, too. My panels were made in South Korea and I was aware of the pollution resulting from the their production. But those will be in use for 25 years at least.

    Hope to soon have a Clarity on that driveway below.

    Last edited: Oct 16, 2018
  14. Ray B

    Ray B Active Member

    True enough. NREL did an extensive review of many studies into the CO2 footprint of solar and other renewables:


    From their numbers the payback on power used to create, transport, and install them gets recovered in ~ 3 years. For LCA studies they normally spread out the ~3 tons/m2 of solar panels over their lifetime generation to arrive at ~57 g CO2/kWh (after harmonizing they arrive at 48 g CO2/kWh). This is compared to coal at ~1044 g/kWh and natural gas 592 g/kWh.

    Here is the more detailed paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1530-9290.2011.00439.x

    And a report by the IPCC: http://www.ipcc-wg3.de/report/IPCC_SRREN_Ch03.pdf
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  15. Heino

    Heino Active Member

    My reasons for buying a Clarity were as follows:

    1. Wanted a Tesla Model 3 - but backed out at the very last minute as I did not want to commit to spending over $51,500 for a car. My wife was actually fine with me spending that kind of money! I however, could not bring myself to dropping that much cash.

    2. My previous Honda Civic Hybrid made me hate going to gas stations, as I only had to fill-up every 2 and a half weeks or so.

    3. The Clarity is a large vehicle with a super comfortable interior, plenty of tech for me.

    4. I can drive in EV mode most days as I have a fairly short commute, and still use the car for extended road trips thanks to the gasoline engine.

    5. The Clarity is very affordable and I will get a $7,500 tax credit.

    6. Honda as a brand is fairly reliable, so I had no hesitations buying another Honda.

    7. Driving a Clarity is good for the environment. The MPG for this size car even in HV mode is very decent! Anything I can do to help save the planet is a plus.

    8. Did I mention how much I hate going to gas stations for gas? Electric driving 99% of the time for me. :D
  16. jorgie393

    jorgie393 Active Member

    My story exactly—dropped my Tesla reservation and got the Clarity.
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  17. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    Double ditto on what everyone says about buying a Clarity. But you asked why I bought a PHEV and why I picked the Clarity over the Volt.

    I bought a PHEV instead of a BEV because:
    1. Charging stations are too few and far between and will remain so for near future and there will be a considerable lag before they catch up with the increasing number of BEVs. I anticipate problems with supply and demand before things improve to my comfort level.
    2. Two words: Range Anxiety
    3. Charging time with current battery chemistry is just too long and has limits with multiple fast charging on a single long trip.
    4. Waiting on a Tesla (the only viable comparable alternative BEV currently available, IMHO) was a non-starter since I hadn’t signed up previously, the tax rebate is phasing out, and who knows when the $35,000 model will be available. Also every year I wait costs me $1,000 in lost EV savings and I risk the tax credit being ended. So it paid to pull the trigger back in Feb.

    But I’m all in for a BEV when there is an affordable one with the equivalent comfort and roominess of the Clarity and with a 300 mile range battery pack that will charge to 80% in 20 min without affecting the battery.

    As to why I choose the Clarity over the Volt:
    1. Size. The Volt is just too small and cramped for me to get in and out of and only seats 2 in the back seat which is very uncomfortable.
    2. Price and comfort/luxury feel. To option out the Volt to bring it up to the level of the Clarity was just too expensive for such a cramped small car and it still wouldn’t be as nice as the Clarity.
    3. Reliability. Even though the Volt has a 7 or 8 yr (?) history with only 1 bad year, I still trust Honda over GM. That may be a personal bias from driving Honda’s trouble free since 1992.

    The Bolt and Leaf just don’t have enough range or room for me. And the Leaf’s non cooled battery’s problem kept me from even considering it. So I did my research and have drunk the Clarity Kool-Aide! For me it’s the perfect set of features at the exactly right time. For 90%+ of my driving it’s just like a BEV, and on trips it gets almost 50 mpg with absolutely no range anxiety and no waiting to charge. It’s truely, as someone posted, the gateway drug to a full BEV in my future without having to wait.

    And let me close by saying that between the deal I got and the $7,500 tax credit, I saved more than enough over the Tesla to buy the Clarity and put a 10kW premium PV solar system on my house (with its 30% tax credit) with a 10 yr ROI.
    So if a card carrying conservative old white guy does this, you know the age of the ICE is soon to be over. My carbon footprint (even with production and lifecycle factored in) is so small even Al Gore can’t find it. And my non-solar friendly coal country electric utility can kiss my grits!!
  18. kcsunshine

    kcsunshine Active Member

    My main reasons were:

    * HOV/Carpool lane
    * Tax credits
    * Free charging at work and other work incentives
    * Existing car was getting old and gets about 19mpg

    I think if any one of the reasons were eliminated, I wouldn't have gotten the car. Being green wasn't a main factor but a bonus. It was really for selfish reasons.

    I chose the Clarity because of both the EV and HV range. The relative low price with the credits helped. I considered other PHEV but liked Hondas due to experience over other manufacturers. I also needed a comfortable 4 passenger car with a 5th seat for other times. The size of the Clarity was just right.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018
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  19. Mark W

    Mark W Active Member

    I bought my Clarity for the same reasons as many above:
    1. I love the way EVs drive
    2. Rebates made the price right
    3. Low cost to run/maintain
    4. EV range was good enough and the car is roomy
    ...20. Good for the environment
    ...99. Rear fender styling

    Much more about the economics for me than the environment.
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  20. Rothgarr

    Rothgarr Member

    Hah hah... # 99
    (I've often wondered how much of a difference those make -- but as I understand it the inlets in front of the rear wheels are functional)
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  21. Robert_Alabama

    Robert_Alabama Well-Known Member

    I suspect all these have been covered but:
    1) Car is a great car for the $28000-$29000 Touring all-in cost after the $7500 tax credit (some have even beat that). Efficiency is incredible on both electricity and gasoline. With my costs of electricity and running on electricity the car would be near 100 mpg equivalent for a gasoline powered car. I am lucky enough to charge at work so essentially no costs for electricity. Even on gasoline, the car seems to get over 50 mpg on trips. I haven't done any extended highway driving yet, so I am anxious to get the real number for that. The last time I ran out of battery, I stopped the car and filled up (4 gallons) and drove about 60 miles. The computer actually stated it got 61 mpg over that 60 mile stretch driving 50-60 average speed (rural road). Oh yeah, I also love that the car burns regular gasoline.
    2) I live in an urban area that has enough air pollution already (car smog). I like helping the local air quality especially when sitting stalled traffic.
    3) Not even going into the carbon footprint, I hate the United States is dependent on foreign oil. Anything economic to reduce that dependency seems like a good choice.
    4) I (like everyone else) hate stopping to buy gas during the week. I'm always tight for time to get to work, or the stations are covered up from everyone trying to stop on the way to work or on the way home.
    5) I think with the efficiency of the car and the relatively small size of the batteries that the car has to be good for carbon emissions. I know it depends on the electric generation sources supplying specific areas and I applaud those that have installed solar. Even without owning solar panels to help with charging, I believe it is better for the planet than gasoline cars now. As electric generation continues to shift more and more away from fossil, it will only get better. I mentioned the small size of the battery compared to say Tesla. I generally will probably drive 90+ percent of the time on electricity over the life of this vehicle. I like to think of the car as nearly equivalent to owning a Tesla without the range anxiety (and yes without the jaw dropping acceleration). I have a Chevrolet Volt with 72000 miles on it (a little over 80% on battery) in which I have burned 350 gallons of gas in 6 years or about 60 gallons/yr or 5 gallons per month. That's essentially no gas usage and the Clarity will probably cut that in half from what I have seen so far.
    6) For me, I would not have bought the Clarity if it wasn't such a large and comfortable car. I love the Volt, but the size has always been a little small for me. The Clarity puts it to shame for comfort on a trip and is much easier to get into and out of (I'm about 6'2" and it's getting harder as I get older). As an aside, and somewhat redundant to 1) above, it has shocked me how much more economic the Clarity is compared to the Volt. With the 2012 Volt, I get about 36 miles from 12 kWh of charging. With the Clarity I get 50 miles from 15 kWh of charging. The Volt gets 38 mpg on premium fuel. The Clarity is getting more like 50 mpg on regular fuel.
  22. jdonalds

    jdonalds Well-Known Member

    I too am a "card carrying conservative old white guy" who did the same. I'm 72 years old. The only difference is our local electric utility is actually pretty good to work with and there is no coal fired power in the loop.
  23. Lepori

    Lepori Member

    Where do you live? I’m inCA so pretty good on the electric front. Going to be better if you have solar (we’ll probably purchase solar soon now that we use enough electricity). There is going to be a lot of state/country variability though based on the local grid. Buying a PHEV and driving 80-90% electric seems like it will have a much shorter environmental payoff time than BEV. Either way getting rid of gas is good in my book and there should be more renewable energy used over the lifetime of the car

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