Hello to those who have already achieved Clarity
I've been lurking here for a couple of weeks, learning enough to know that a bit of Clarity in our own future would very likely be a satisfying thing! However, I'm also frustrated at how difficult (impossible?) it is to test drive one, much less proceed to purchase, at least outside California (we are in the Pacific Northwest). Hence the Htg_Clarity username I choose, re-affirming that this model is "Hard to get".
My wife and I have owned a Honda Accord SE since 2007. It has been (and still is) very reliable and reasonably fuel efficient, but at this point we'd like to go greener and fully cover our almost daily trips to town (16 mi RT) and occasional trips to neighboring towns (40 mi RT) with just electricity from a rechargeable battery. For longer trips (approximately 12% of our annual miles) we prefer a PHEV rather than a full BEV for refueling convenience and "range anxiety" considerations, especially given the specs (and costs) of currently available BEV vehicles, and existing limited fast charging infrastructure.
With the Volt out of production, the ">40 mi RT on just EV" goal makes the Clarity one of the few PHEV candidates in the running. Even if the Volt were still being made, we like a roomy, comfortable sedan (not SUVs or hatchbacks, and no sunroof), and we are quite happy with Honda's demonstrated design/engineering/quality/reliability, so the choice quickly converged on the Clarity PHEV Touring edition. The only Clarity "feature" that I'm not sure we will like is the rear visibility through the trunk, but if that's the only drawback the outside mirrors should provide a good enough workaround, at least for normal driving (I've driven vans in the past with no rear windows!). Also the multi view rear camera helps mitigate that "feature" when backing up. Others have mentioned the Clarity's small gas tank and ~300 mile range in HEV mode as a drawback, but that is not an issue for us since we never drive longer than 3 hours or so without taking a short break to stretch our legs.
There are two dealers reasonably nearby to us, and both told us there are no Clarity models currently available anywhere in WA state. For 2020 production, one said they won't order one, period, and would also not consider a dealer swap, but suggested instead the best option would be for us to make a trip to California, or else look for some other brand of PHEV! The other dealer said that Honda dictates what dealers receive in the way of an allotment for 2020, and (paraphrasing) they will get back to us if they (inferring we) happen to get lucky. I haven't yet asked the second dealer about the possibility of acquiring a vehicle via a dealer swap, assuming some 2020 models do get allocated to WA, but not to them.
Using the Costco Auto Program, the price the second dealer quoted was discounted, but only about $1K below MSRP. If they do get one allocated I'm willing to wait (we don't expect to buy until 1st quarter next year at the earliest anyway), but if not I would need to widen the search for an in state cooperative dealer (with no guarantee of success). The suggested trip to CA made me wonder just how viable purchasing out of state would be.
Buying in California would entail paying about $3K in CA sales tax. Normally that would offset WA taxes when registering and licensing the car here, but WA currently has a sales tax exemption for the first $25K cost of qualifying electric vehicles (and the Clarity does qualify). Any CA sales tax paid would presumably offset the WA tax on the excess over $25K (close to $1K in tax with an estimated sales price of $36K), thus costing $2K more in sales tax overall than need be. For 2019 models, some CA purchasers have reported getting Honda dealer discounts. Without negotiation I've no way to know if those are still available, but if so they might offset the tax disadvantages? Alternatively, does anyone have any experience with getting a CA dealer to ship a car to a dealer in another state so it can be purchased under the normal local tax/license process? Are there any fees beyond the cost of shipping when doing that?
Any other suggestions?
Thanks in advance.