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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After nearly 3 years with my Clarity, which I consider an engineering marvel and amazing integration of complex systems, there are a couple of items that stand out. The lack of a fast (DC charging) option that the all-electric Clarity has reduces long-distance driving to 200 mile range gas stops to fill the 7 gallon tank. This reduces mpg to the 30-40 range, impressively maintained given the vehicle weight and complex drive system but the least efficient mode available. I don't know if space or cost were the limiting factors, Honda of course is defensive (use gas mode) but a retrofit or design change would improve the car value and efficiency dramatically. The other (and obvious) requirement: 240v home charging available 24x7. I couldn't install a "charger" without a service entrance upgrade so relied on a public charging array 2 blocks away. Between overstay tickets, punitive rate changes (24c to $5 hour starting hour 5) to chargers down I've lost trust in the infrastructure controled by private companies with their own agendas: since these are utility extensions they need regulation. Incentives need to push manufactures to include fast DC charging in all electrified vehicles and cities, counties, and states should mandate minimum DC fast charger inclusion, stop price gouging by charging networks and regulate accessible and maintained locations. California and other states that have long stretches of freeway should add charging stations at rest areas or extend existing facilities in partnership with charging networks. State-compliant locations could add a small tax (< 5% ) to recoup lost gasoline taxes that fund highways. 240v AC charging are impractical for 200+ mile trips, fast DC charging is the answer.
 

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After nearly 3 years with my Clarity, which I consider an engineering marvel and amazing integration of complex systems, there are a couple of items that stand out. The lack of a fast (DC charging) option that the all-electric Clarity has reduces long-distance driving to 200 mile range gas stops to fill the 7 gallon tank. This reduces mpg to the 30-40 range, impressively maintained given the vehicle weight and complex drive system but the least efficient mode available. I don't know if space or cost were the limiting factors, Honda of course is defensive (use gas mode) but a retrofit or design change would improve the car value and efficiency dramatically. The other (and obvious) requirement: 240v home charging available 24x7. I couldn't install a "charger" without a service entrance upgrade so relied on a public charging array 2 blocks away. Between overstay tickets, punitive rate changes (24c to $5 hour starting hour 5) to chargers down I've lost trust in the infrastructure controled by private companies with their own agendas: since these are utility extensions they need regulation. Incentives need to push manufactures to include fast DC charging in all electrified vehicles and cities, counties, and states should mandate minimum DC fast charger inclusion, stop price gouging by charging networks and regulate accessible and maintained locations. California and other states that have long stretches of freeway should add charging stations at rest areas or extend existing facilities in partnership with charging networks. State-compliant locations could add a small tax (< 5% ) to recoup lost gasoline taxes that fund highways. 240v AC charging are impractical for 200+ mile trips, fast DC charging is the answer.
Respectfully, if those are the things you are looking for then the Clarity is not the right car for you. Also, if you’re only getting 30-40 mpg on the road with your Clarity then you’re either driving very fast or something’s wrong. You should be getting over 300 miles HV range. Also, I’m wondering what kind of electric service you must have. Do you have an electric dryer in your home? If so, is it near the garage? Also, if you regulate the private companies who are providing EVSEs then there will be very few/none.
 

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The Clarity PHEV came with DC fast charging: it’s called HV+. And it works even when public chargers don’t. The beauty of dual-fuels.

Also, REPEATEDLY fast charging a small pack isn’t good for long term health.

I can add 300 miles range in :45 secs at a liquid supercharger. EV engineers know they can’t compete with that given current technology and costs.
 

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Hybrids will never really have fast charging. The problem is the heat dissipation from a small battery during the charge cycle. In addition, with a 50 mile range as an electric car, is there really any reason for DCFC charging?
 

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After nearly 3 years with my Clarity, which I consider an engineering marvel and amazing integration of complex systems, there are a couple of items that stand out. The lack of a fast (DC charging) option that the all-electric Clarity has reduces long-distance driving to 200 mile range gas stops to fill the 7 gallon tank. This reduces mpg to the 30-40 range, impressively maintained given the vehicle weight and complex drive system but the least efficient mode available. I don't know if space or cost were the limiting factors, Honda of course is defensive (use gas mode) but a retrofit or design change would improve the car value and efficiency dramatically. The other (and obvious) requirement: 240v home charging available 24x7. I couldn't install a "charger" without a service entrance upgrade so relied on a public charging array 2 blocks away. Between overstay tickets, punitive rate changes (24c to $5 hour starting hour 5) to chargers down I've lost trust in the infrastructure controled by private companies with their own agendas: since these are utility extensions they need regulation. Incentives need to push manufactures to include fast DC charging in all electrified vehicles and cities, counties, and states should mandate minimum DC fast charger inclusion, stop price gouging by charging networks and regulate accessible and maintained locations. California and other states that have long stretches of freeway should add charging stations at rest areas or extend existing facilities in partnership with charging networks. State-compliant locations could add a small tax (< 5% ) to recoup lost gasoline taxes that fund highways. 240v AC charging are impractical for 200+ mile trips, fast DC charging is the answer.
My guess is that to have a larger fuel tank would have required reducing either trunk space, cabin space, or battery size. Adding three gallons would have made a big difference in range, and that's just half a cubic foot which doesn't seem like that much, but we don't know what they had to work with in terms of fuel tank placement, some of which is dictated by safety requirements. The Clarity was originally built as a FCEV (hydrogen fuel cell), which may not have been the optimal design for a PHEV.

The somewhat limited HV range of the Clarity does in some ways reduce its advantage over EV vehicles, although not by much. The primary advantage of a PHEV compared to an EV is that if you go beyond the range of the car you can quickly fill up with gasoline. A good example is someone who likes to go on weekend trips to other cities or locations as sort of a mini-vacation. Let's say a particular city they are going to is 200 miles away, so roughly a three hour drive each way, 400 miles total. They don't want to spend any more time refueling than necessary because that will take away time at their destination enjoying their vacation. And they may not stop to eat along the way, preferring instead to eat at their destination. With a gasoline car they will likely only need to make one refueling stop during the entire trip, either at their destination or somewhere convenient along the way (and also use that as a quick break from driving).

With an EV, depending on the range of their car, they will have to stop at least once and maybe even twice for recharging and spend much more time doing it, including possibly having to drive slightly off their route to get to a charging station. For some people that's fine, they love their Tesla, and even if there is no supercharger station along the way they will happily sit in their car and watch Netflix while charging. However other people will find this a huge detriment as it will cut into their vacation time which is already limited due to the six hours of driving.

The Clarity works very well in this situation since it can operate like a gasoline car and refill quickly. However due to the small gas tank, they may have to fill up twice on the trip instead of once like they would with some other cars. Higher freeway speeds, headwinds, etc. can reduce the HV range somewhat. Although even some gasoline cars would require two fill ups in this particular scenario. But one fill up each way, easy off, easy on, chance to briefly stretch the legs, no big deal.

DC charging is not an advantage in this scenario because each charge session only adds maybe 45 miles of range (again freeway speeds) whereas they can quickly add over 200 miles of range by filling with gasoline.

On longer trips, say 500 miles per day, the limited gas tank size of the Clarity becomes more noticeable. However even with the more frequent fill ups compared to other cars, it is still saving considerable time compared to an EV on the same trip.
 

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My guess is that to have a larger fuel tank would have required reducing either trunk space, cabin space, or battery size. Adding three gallons would have made a big difference in range, and that's just half a cubic foot which doesn't seem like that much, but we don't know what they had to work with in terms of fuel tank placement, some of which is dictated by safety requirements. The Clarity was originally built as a FCEV (hydrogen fuel cell), which may not have been the optimal design for a PHEV.

The somewhat limited HV range of the Clarity does in some ways reduce its advantage over EV vehicles, although not by much. The primary advantage of a PHEV compared to an EV is that if you go beyond the range of the car you can quickly fill up with gasoline. A good example is someone who likes to go on weekend trips to other cities or locations as sort of a mini-vacation. Let's say a particular city they are going to is 200 miles away, so roughly a three hour drive each way, 400 miles total. They don't want to spend any more time refueling than necessary because that will take away time at their destination enjoying their vacation. And they may not stop to eat along the way, preferring instead to eat at their destination. With a gasoline car they will likely only need to make one refueling stop during the entire trip, either at their destination or somewhere convenient along the way (and also use that as a quick break from driving).

With an EV, depending on the range of their car, they will have to stop at least once and maybe even twice for recharging and spend much more time doing it, including possibly having to drive slightly off their route to get to a charging station. For some people that's fine, they love their Tesla, and even if there is no supercharger station along the way they will happily sit in their car and watch Netflix while charging. However other people will find this a huge detriment as it will cut into their vacation time which is already limited due to the six hours of driving.

The Clarity works very well in this situation since it can operate like a gasoline car and refill quickly. However due to the small gas tank, they may have to fill up twice on the trip instead of once like they would with some other cars. Higher freeway speeds, headwinds, etc. can reduce the HV range somewhat. Although even some gasoline cars would require two fill ups in this particular scenario. But one fill up each way, easy off, easy on, chance to briefly stretch the legs, no big deal.

DC charging is not an advantage in this scenario because each charge session only adds maybe 45 miles of range (again freeway speeds) whereas they can quickly add over 200 miles of range by filling with gasoline.

On longer trips, say 500 miles per day, the limited gas tank size of the Clarity becomes more noticeable. However even with the more frequent fill ups compared to other cars, it is still saving considerable time compared to an EV on the same trip.
I have a 2018 touring model and while I like most things about my clarity I do have a problem with the small gas tank and range. I recently made a trip of a little over 5000 miles and averaged 48mpg over the entire trip but still had to stop for gas 19 times, often in remote places where fuel costs were significantly higher than larger cities. Good news was I only needed 6 gallons or so at the higher prices. Honda really should have at least a 12 gallon tank in this car. I am coming up with 40k miles on my car now so will be trading it in, Although I like this car a lot I will be trying something different when I trade. The small tank is one issue and a new clarity is the same as my 2018 so other than the year and 0 miles a new one would not be any change at all, plus new ones are hard to find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for the helpful posts here: you know who you are. Very good points regarding DC charge and battery life, I know over charged and too low cutoff voltage were a huge problem with original Prius and they figured that out relatively quickly. Trips over 200 miles are the only issue that is maybe 1% of my driving. An default "on" battery charge would be helpful (i often forget to set). I know the limited (7 gal) tank was required to meet a federal tax credit criteria, i think the BMW carbon fibre vehicle had the same issue. i still consider the Clarity solid purchase, i also noticed it was the only 2018 Honda that was 95+% made in Japan. That's likely why collision insurance is high, Japanese parts are always more expensive than North American equivalents and those likely don't exist.
 

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Thank you for the helpful posts here: you know who you are. Very good points regarding DC charge and battery life, I know over charged and too low cutoff voltage were a huge problem with original Prius and they figured that out relatively quickly. Trips over 200 miles are the only issue that is maybe 1% of my driving. An default "on" battery charge would be helpful (i often forget to set). I know the limited (7 gal) tank was required to meet a federal tax credit criteria, i think the BMW carbon fibre vehicle had the same issue. i still consider the Clarity solid purchase, i also noticed it was the only 2018 Honda that was 95+% made in Japan. That's likely why collision insurance is high, Japanese parts are always more expensive than North American equivalents and those likely don't exist.
BMW i3 REx was different - the gas range had to be less than the EV range to get the BEVx designation (mostly for CARB not Federal). To do this they actually software limited the ~3 gallon tank to only be able to use 2.2 gallons of it.

Clarity small tank is a byproduct of fitting enough batteries to get the 48 mile range on EV. A bigger gas tank means fewer batteries and less EV range.
The Clarity Electric has 50% more batteries and 85% more range, but the extra batteries intrude on the trunk space as well as using the space vacated by the tank and some other ICE associated bits.

The Clarity was designed primarily as a Fuel Cell Vehicle and both the PHEV and BEV versions were secondary objectives.

PHEV batteries are too small to make DCFC practical. A good rule of thumb is 1C average over the charge session, but bigger batteries can be a bit higher and conversely smaller batteries a bit lower. The 17 kWh battery of the Clarity PHEV would probably accept a peak DCFC rate of <24 kW and quickly taper after <50% charge (6-8 kWh added) at that point it would quickly drop to L2 like charging speeds.
 

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I can see how not having ability to charge at your place of residence would negate some of the advantages of owning a PHEV. I probably take it for granted that I can come home, plug in, and wake up the next morning to a fully charged battery with zero inconvenience. A challenge to the industry to make EV ownership practical for those without a place to charge at home. Next best thing is charging at your place of work, since it is another situation where your car sits parked for an extended time with nothing better to do. Some employers (but certainly not all) might be persuaded that providing an EV charging station in employee parking lots is good for their business.
 
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