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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think the Clarity Touring could be my next car purchase. I have a Chevy Bolt (86k miles) so I’m used to EVs. I have a JuiceBox in the garage and LOVE it.

I have to climb a serious hill in that MI Honda dealers don’t seem to carry them. I’m told by a couple of them it’s not worth it to jump through the hoops to get one for me. As a result I may have to figure another way to get one. I had the same issues with the Bolt when I got it three years ago. GM wouldn't sell it here in MI for also most a year so I decided to go to VA to make a purchase.

Any pertinent insight would be greatly appreciated.

Any MI owners here to offer guidance?
 

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In 2019 it was nearly impossible to order a Clarity outside of California. Dealers usually claimed they couldn't, whether that was literally true or whether Honda just made it unattractive for them we don't know. But whatever it was something seems to have changed when the 2020 model came out as many people are now reporting that they can find a dealer willing to order one. Not all dealers will though so you may have to try several dealers. If they say they tried before and couldn't, ask them if that was last year, if so tell them to please check again because Honda seems to have opened things up a bit more in 2020.
 

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We were able to order a 2020 Touring in Washington State. We had to call around just about every dealer in the area. Some did not even know what Clarity was. We did find a dealer who was willing to order one (full MSRP) from Japan. It took about a month and a half for the car to get built, shipped, and delivered to the dealership.


While we did not get any "deals", we also did not have to fly to California and drive it back / ship it.


After we did our order, I did start seeing some 2019 California leftovers started to show up around here as well but it seemed like they were mostly Black or White base models. We got the gray Touring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
With so many 2019s lying around, that may be the easiest path to a purchase. What, if any, differences are there between the 2019 and a 2020 models?
 

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With so many 2019s lying around, that may be the easiest path to a purchase. What, if any, differences are there between the 2019 and a 2020 models?
No changes from 2019 to 2020, other than apparently some type of change to the pedestrian warning sound.

You will likely get a better deal on a 2019 but you should also factor in how old the car is. 2019's were manufactured from December 2018 through December 2019 so there is quite a difference in age with some on dealer lots being a few months old and some being over a year old. The concern is the possibility of the battery having sat for months discharged since a lot of dealers are careless about it, and no way to really know. If a car is several months old, no matter what the dealer claims you will want to see results of the battery capacity test before purchasing. Typical new batteries test at around 55 Ah. Warranty replacement occurs if it is below 36.6 Ah. Most people who have the capacity test done even a year after purchase are just below 55 Ah. So if a "new" 2019 tests much below that it would be an indication that the battery has degraded more than average and would probably be best avoided.

The manufacture date is on the placard on the driver door jamb, of course if you are looking at cars listed in other states you can't see the door jamb, but you can get a general idea from the last six digits of the VIN number, which in model year 2019 ranged from 000001 to just over 007000. I have tracked a few sample VIN numbers listed below:

VIN - Mfg Date
006401 10/19
005501 8/19
004669 7/19
003044 5/19
001598 3/19
000971 1/19
000035 12/18
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Last month my local Honda dealer told me no dealers in MI had any Claritys and that the closest one was in Lancaster, OH. As luck would have it, that was on the way home from a business trip. I took a test drive and liked what I saw. I told the sales kid that I wanted a Touring in red or green for my wife to drive.

Today he calls me saying just that. A green one was on its way from japan and would be on his lot in three or four weeks. But as these were so hot, he could only offer me $750 off MSRP. KBB says the 2019s are running 10% below MSRP but they have no numbers for the 2020s.

I had contemplated flying to Boston or WDC and driving one back from the east coast.....this is clearly much easier. That’s definitely worth something.

Are others getting a lot more discount than this? Is he shading their popularity? Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

Dayle
 

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Good to hear other states have them arriving!

As for pricing, you should shop around even if they are out of state.

Make sure you check about sales/use tax and registration/DMV fees for those other states - some states like CA won't let you get a refund if you take delivery in CA.
 

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Make sure you check about sales/use tax and registration/DMV fees for those other states - some states like CA won't let you get a refund if you take delivery in CA.
As far as I know California is the only state that charges sales tax even if the car is not registered there, I have never heard of any other state doing this. That's why no one initially believes it when first warned about it. I'm not saying someone shouldn't check to be sure but people buy cars out of state all the time and other than California I have never heard of someone having an issue with being forced to pay sales tax to the state where the car was purchased.
 

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Out-of-State purchase in CA

As far as I know California is the only state that charges sales tax even if the car is not registered there, I have never heard of any other state doing this. That's why no one initially believes it when first warned about it. I'm not saying someone shouldn't check to be sure but people buy cars out of state all the time and other than California I have never heard of someone having an issue with being forced to pay sales tax to the state where the car was purchased.
We opted to purchase our Touring model in CA rather than in Colorado. We had a few hiccups with the incentives and prices offered via the online car purchase sites as many of the discounts were based on registering the Clarity in CA. We did find a dealer, Honda of Oakland, that would honor the discounted purchase price. The savings were substantially above the $750 MSRP discount offered in Colorado.

Honda of Oakland understood we would be registering in Colorado and correctly computed the sales tax collected at the time of purchase based on our zip code (the Honda system they used at closing was designed to include this feature). When registering the Clarity in Boulder the DMV worked through the dealer to confirm the tax was collected (took about 2 weeks) and paid to CA. The CO DMV used an agreement between CA and CO to recoup the sales tax collected.

Prior to purchase I confirmed with the CO DMV the process of registering and out-of-state purchase and they proved to be super helpful. All I needed to provide was the closing statement from the purchase and the CA title. Two trips to the local DMV, our registration was finalized and we are loving our Clarity.
 

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We opted to purchase our Touring model in CA rather than in Colorado. We had a few hiccups with the incentives and prices offered via the online car purchase sites as many of the discounts were based on registering the Clarity in CA. We did find a dealer, Honda of Oakland, that would honor the discounted purchase price. The savings were substantially above the $750 MSRP discount offered in Colorado.

Honda of Oakland understood we would be registering in Colorado and correctly computed the sales tax collected at the time of purchase based on our zip code (the Honda system they used at closing was designed to include this feature). When registering the Clarity in Boulder the DMV worked through the dealer to confirm the tax was collected (took about 2 weeks) and paid to CA. The CO DMV used an agreement between CA and CO to recoup the sales tax collected.

Prior to purchase I confirmed with the CO DMV the process of registering and out-of-state purchase and they proved to be super helpful. All I needed to provide was the closing statement from the purchase and the CA title. Two trips to the local DMV, our registration was finalized and we are loving our Clarity.
That is great to hear. Just to verify, the California dealer only collected sales tax based on the Colorado tax rate? Sales tax in California for a Clarity can be up to $3,000 depending on the city and county where it is purchased. I looked on Colorado's website and it looks like Colorado sales tax would be about $500, plus whatever county and local tax would be. So I'm guessing you paid less than $1,000 in sales tax?

I wonder if any other states have reciprocal agreements with California. Those that don't will still usually waive sales tax if it was already paid to California, unless California sales tax is lower than local tax (unlikely) in which case you owe the difference. But if California tax paid was higher than local tax would have been they do not refund the difference, so you can wind up paying higher sales tax than if purchased locally. But then again you can't really get much in the way of a discount when purchasing locally.

It's even worse in Georgia where I live because they recently changed to VAT (value added tax) which they don't consider as sales tax, so they could care less if you paid tax to another state, you still owe the full amount of Georgia VAT. If I had purchased my car in California I would have had to pay $3,000 or so in sales tax to California, and then about $2,000 VAT to Georgia. Not good. If I had been in that situation it would have definitely paid for me to have the car shipped to Georgia to avoid California sales tax. Fortunately for me when I bought my Clarity last April they still had several at local dealers and the discounts were insane, I got a $7,000 discount on a brand new 2018 touring manufactured in Nov 2018. And the $7,500 tax credit on top of that. But if I were to buy another one I would probably be looking at buying in California and having it shipped. Or I could order one but then there would likely be no discount. Or try and find a deal in another state, but discounts seem unlikely unless purchased in California. And even then as you experienced you have to find a California dealer that is willing to give you a good discount even though they won't be getting any incentive from Honda since you won't be registering it in California.

People in Arizona are in a unique situation as it is a neighboring state so of course it is quite feasible to purchase a Clarity in California and drive it back to Arizona. They have to pay California sales tax which is typically several hundred dollars higher than Arizona, but then they don't have to pay Arizona tax. Having it shipped would cost about the same as the tax savings and also entail all kinds of hassle, especially since it's very difficult to find a dealer willing to ship out of state. So for someone in Arizona it's usually best to shop all around California for the best deal then just fly out to purchase the car then drive it home and take a few hundred dollars hit on overpaid sales tax.
 

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Out-of-State purchase in CA

That is great to hear. Just to verify, the California dealer only collected sales tax based on the Colorado tax rate? Sales tax in California for a Clarity can be up to $3,000 depending on the city and county where it is purchased. I looked on Colorado's website and it looks like Colorado sales tax would be about $500, plus whatever county and local tax would be. So I'm guessing you paid less than $1,000 in sales tax?
Unfortunately, CO tax is nearly as high as parts of CA including the Bay Area. The amount collected for the CO tax was above $3,000. I did pull the paperwork and the Honda dealer did need to provide an executed State of Colorado Statement of Fact form to the Colorado DMV to certify that the tax collected was "paid and remitted" to the State of California.
 

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Unfortunately, CO tax is nearly as high as parts of CA including the Bay Area. The amount collected for the CO tax was above $3,000. I did pull the paperwork and the Honda dealer did need to provide an executed State of Colorado Statement of Fact form to the Colorado DMV to certify that the tax collected was "paid and remitted" to the State of California.
That is how reciprocity works from my understanding. In other states where there is not reciprocity with the buyer's state, the dealer can simply not collect sales tax, or as a convenience they will add estimated sales tax for your state to the bill and then forward the money to your state. This is helpful for those who want sales tax to be included in the loan, which otherwise wouldn't be possible if the dealer didn't collect sales tax at the time of purchase.

Reciprocity works a little different, sales tax owed to the buyer's state is collected at the time of sale, but the money isn't forwarded to the buyer's state, instead the payment is sent to the dealer's state (California in your situation). California then issues a credit to the reciprocal state (Colorado in your case). The credit is later "collected" when a dealer in Colorado sells a car to a California resident and the dealer sends the payment to Colorado. I suppose this can create quite an imbalance over time though so I would guess once a year or so one state sends a check to the other to even things up.

And then California seems to be the one exception, unless they have reciprocity with the buyer's state, if delivery is taken in California they will charge California sales tax to the nonresident buyer and keep the money, no credits to the buyer's state are issued. The buyer is then at the mercy of their home state whether sales tax paid to California can be applied as a credit to whatever sales tax they owe in their home state.

At least that is my understanding of how this works, most articles about this online are either a few years old or else not dated, and tax laws change all the time. And most states websites have no information about purchases in that state by non-residents.
 

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Such a good piece of information collected on how taxes work between some states...

Glad to hear Clarity purchase was successfully completed from Colorado!
 
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