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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello to those who have already achieved Clarity :wink:!

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.
 

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Others on this forum and Inside EVs Clarity forum have recently commented on taking delivery outside of CA to offset sales tax (usually involves a shipping cost), but I think your reasoning is sound and very similar to our situation. We previously had two Civic Hybrids and traded in a marvelous 2017 Accord Hybrid on our 2018 Clarity Touring model. We drove from WI to KS to make our purchase because no dealer in MN or WI would order a Clarity for us. We paid no sales tax in KS and eventually paid WI sales tax after subtracting trade-in value, extended warranty, and other nontaxable dealer "fees." The Clarity does have a few minor annoyances, like the mediocre windshield washer system, but overall it is an engineering marvel. It is the best car by far we have ever bought and delivers on all the major expectations we hoped for, which were similar to yours. The forthcoming Toyota RAV4 PHEV looks promising, but its EV mileage would not be enough for me. Even with the good mileage we got with our 2017 Accord Hybrid, our gasoline bill is now $150/mo lower on average for the same driving patterns after subtracting daily charging cost. Good luck with your decision.
 

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It's certainly not unheard of for people to purchase cars from out of state and have it delivered. Besides the sales tax saving which is an issue with California (no other state that I know of charges sales tax for cars not registered there) you also will likely be able to get a few thousand off of MSRP as California dealers quite often give pretty good discounts. Although some of the discount is due to the Honda dealer incentive which is only paid to dealers if the car is registered in California, but that doesn't mean they won't still make a deal. It may though take a lot of emails and phone calls over several weeks to a lot of dealers to find both a good deal and a dealer willing to ship out of state.

Some people even purchase sight unseen and have the car shipped, which is not as risky as it sounds as you can refuse delivery if the car is damaged or is in any way different than what was on the sales contract. However you might feel more comfortable purchasing in person which allows you to see and test drive the car. So after getting a quote that is to your liking you fly there, do all the paperwork, just don't take delivery at the dealer instead have it shipped to you and then you fly back home. Even with shipping costs and your airfare and rental car you will still likely come out ahead compared to buying locally assuming you can even find a dealer willing to order one for you which is not impossible but pretty close to it based on what we keep hearing.

You may want to arrange your own shipping, it's not as intimidating as it sounds, you can even get quotes online right now just to get an idea what type of prices you will get. Likely a lower price than what a dealer will charge if they make the arrangements. Also it may make it easier to find a California dealer willing to sell it to you if you tell them you will handle the shipping, including tell them that you will arrange for a notary to be present at delivery for signing (easiest way to do that is take delivery at the notary's office). Go onto California's tax website and look up out of state sales tax for cars and you can see the form that is signed on delivery which confirms that delivery was taken out of state (the form is not necessary but it makes it easier for the dealer to prove to California tax authority that they did not have to collect sales tax). Technically all of that is the dealers responsibility but it is to your advantage to be familiar with the process so you know what is going on, and it will also possibly make the dealer more comfortable selling to you if they know you are knowledgeable about the process, because that means it is less likely that it will become complicated like it would if the buyer is clueless and expects the dealer to do everything.

Another option might be to call an auto broker, that would make it easier but of course that would likely cut into the savings somewhat, unless maybe they are able to find a better deal than you could have on your own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks TomL and 2002 for your suggestions and info.
I'll see what Dealer two says about allocations (supposed to be known next week, according to them) and will also start doing some research per your suggestions.
Happy Holidays!
 

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Thanks TomL and 2002 for your suggestions and info.
I'll see what Dealer two says about allocations (supposed to be known next week, according to them) and will also start doing some research per your suggestions.
Happy Holidays!
I don't know if you have happened to read some of my posts on other threads, but Honda only shipped cars to all fifty states in the 2018 model year, 2019 models went only to ZEV states (all on east coast except California and Oregon) and even those shipments to ZEV states only lasted until about February of this year. That is not published anywhere that is my conclusion based on studying VIN numbers around the country (back when there were cars on dealer lots, they are almost all gone now). Only up to about VIN number 1000 were shipped to the east coast (and a few to Oregon) which is why I estimate February because the 2019 model year began production in December. After the first 1,000 were shipped all cars have since gone exclusively to California which is now up to VIN numbers in the high 6000's. It wasn't until August when questioned by car websites did Honda acknowledge that cars were being shipped for inventory at this time only to California, but they claimed that customers in all fifty states could still order it. Most of us knew that was pure spin to avoid admitting the pullback to California, and this has been proved out by virtually no reports of anyone outside of California successfully ordering one, instead all we hear about are dealer refusals. Maybe someone in the U.S. has been able to order one but that would seem to be extremely rare, in spite of what Honda claims. Other than a smattering of cars still left on some dealer lots on the east coast (those left have sat for nearly a year) the Clarity is only available in California and in my opinion that will continue in 2020 since there will apparently be no change in 2020 (based on what we hear from Canada) so no reason to expect Honda to change its current distribution with the new model year number. I.e. if your dealer can't get a 2019 there is no reason to believe they can get a 2020.

Note that in 2018 when selling in all fifty states VIN numbers for that model year got up to about 24,000. 2019 will probably end just over 7,000 which gives you an idea how massive the pullback was in 2019. My theory why they pulled back was because they found that the tax incentives weren't enough and Clarity only sold when Honda kicked in thousands of dollars in dealer incentive. They weren't willing to continue losing money that way thus the pullback to California where Clarity is an easier sell then it was on the east coast and where they presumably need more ZEV credits.

Honda Canada has for many months said there will be a 2020 Clarity in Canada. Honda U.S. has been pretty much silent so far on 2020 Clarity, but the cars are still in production, my opinion again, people have been saying for months that 2019 Clarity production stopped but that is not at all true according to my observations. My personal opinion is that the 2020 model will be sold only in California and Canada, nothing changes in 2020 so there is no reason why they would suddenly decide to give it another whirl in states where it didn't sell without massive discounts. Personally I'm just glad that it will continue to be produced in California so at least people who want one can still get one even though it requires a bit more effort.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, forewarned is forearmed, so that always helps.

I had seen your other posts on availability. All I can contribute is what I was told by dealer two (Wilder Honda). They said that there were some, but very few, 2019 Claritys that were allocated to WA dealers in 2019, including a base model that happened to go to Wilder. They held that Clarity from whenever it arrived (I didn't ask the date, sorry) until September, at which point it was the last one in the state. They traded it to another dealer for several Civics (presumably the other dealer had a buyer).

Maybe the very limited allocations to WA in early 2019 (and perhaps to some other non ZEV states, based on thin but non-zero buyer reports in the various forums) were just "tokens" so Honda wouldn't be caught in an outright lie re. "50 state availability"? If so, that strategy was clearly abandoned later - as you note there do not appear to be any reports of additional shipments or new arrivals outside of CA (other than the very occasional cancelled custom order).

I suspect you are also right about 2020 availability, but hope dies hard - I will let you know if I hear anything different. Supposedly 2020 allocations will be made known to dealers in the next week or two.

If you are correct then the continued availability of Clarity in at least CA is good not just for those like me who want to buy one (and can handle the extra effort - it helps to be retired!), but for existing owners too, because continued production implies a longer commitment to support. Even for those with backyard mechanic skills, manufacturer support always extends the useful life expectancy of any complex machinery.
 

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"50 state availability"
As I learned when shopping for a Volt (and, later, a Bolt), that statement means that the manufacturer makes the vehicle available to dealers but - and it's a BIG "but" - it doesn't mean that dealers are required, encouraged or incentivized to sell the vehicle. There's now one Chevy dealership in my state (out of nearly 40) that will sell the Bolt.

I had to go to a neighboring state to purchase my Clarity - none of the four Honda dealerships within 90 miles of my home would order one for me, nor had they any on their lots. The 2018 I eventually purchased had been on the lot for nine months, one of two at that dealership. Right around the time I made the purchase was when Honda decided to not release the 2019 beyond the ZEV states - so another buyer grabbed the other Clarity, but without the discount the dealership gave to me to finally get rid of one of them!

The Honda dealership about two blocks from my home - although they refused to get me a Clarity - has a Clarity-certified service department. I don't know why as they never sold one, but who am I to look a gift mechanic in the mouth?
 

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Currently, in CA, there is a $4,000 Honda discount and about $2,000 dealer discount for 2019 on the lot Clarity PHEV.

My co-worker is getting one before the deal goes away.

If you arrange with a CA dealer to have it shipped to your WA dealer, you will save yourself about 10% in taxes.

With the current discounts on the 2019, it would be a very wise idea to pick up one from CA and have it shipped because shipping from CA to WA would be less than $1000 for transport on a LTL carrier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Update: My local dealer reported Friday that indeed there were no allocations to them from Honda’s planned 2020 Clarity production. They are still checking whether other dealers in WA State may possibly have been favored with any that they could exchange for, but it does not look promising.
So far California dealers have not been much help. One did tell me that Honda’s dealer incentives only applies to cars sold to California buyers (i.e. registered within CA), confirming what 2002 said. That particular dealer also offered only straight up MSRP pricing, and quoted $2K for shipping.

I contacted two car shipping companies and got quotes of between $1200 and $1300 (which included insurance), based on locations of potential dealers in mid-California.

Given shipping, an offer with a minimum of $2.3K off MSRP would be needed for a California purchase to be a push with my local dealer’s still live offer of $1K off MSRP for an ordered Clarity; but the best offer I have received from any California dealer so far is just $1.9K below MSRP. (A California dealer with existing stock would certainly be able to deliver quicker, but that advantage does not hold any extra value in my case).

I did locate and download California’s Department of Tax and Fee Administration form CDTFA-448 Rev. 8 : Statement of Delivery Outside of California. It is a fairly straightforward 1 page form, but does need to be notarized. It also notes that if the car is returned to CA within 12 months, use tax becomes due and collectable. Records of where the car was used for that first 12 months must be kept for 8 years in case of an audit!

Might end up just ordering one, but still looking for now - does anyone have a recommendation for particular California dealer(s) that they have had success with? Perhaps as we near the end of year a better price might be offered...
 

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I just saw the first 2019 Clarity VIN number above 7000 that I have seen, and of all places it's in Olympia, WA, a 2019 Base model with VIN 007005, indicating production in November or possibly early December if they can ship them that fast. Interesting that all of the Base models in Olympia, Spokane and Everett have very high VIN numbers 006205, 006218, 006759 and 006939 indicating production in October and November. And there is a Base in Corvallis, OR with VIN 006995.

Meanwhile even though almost all 2019's that I see on dealer lots on the east coast have very low VIN numbers like 0000207 which indicates production in December 2018, meaning they have sat on the lot for almost a year, a dealer in Bethesda, MD just received two Base models with VIN 006907 and 006908. Also Youngstown, OH recently received a Base model with VIN 006862.

So for some reason at the end of the 2019 model year a small handful of brand new 2019 Base models have been sprinkled in a few states. Maybe dealers in California with 2019's on the lot are holding off ordering until 2020 and so a few were available for other states. Will be interesting to see if any 2020's make it outside of California. Last year production switched from 2018 to 2019 in December so it's possible that they have already started 2020 production even though there hasn't been an official announcement yet in the U.S. (only in Canada).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the pointer, 2002. I see that Capital Honda in Olympia has two Clarity base models listed right now in their inventory; however if they are anything like Klein Honda (in Everett), the cars may still be in transit. Klein Honda has had a Clarity base model listed in their inventory for a couple weeks now, but every date they have told me for when it will arrive has come and gone with no joy. The latest arrival estimate I've been told is now Jan 10.

I'm actually interested in the Touring trim, but contacted Klein because I figured I could at least do a test drive in their listed base model. As it happened, while visiting family in Oregon over Christmas, I lucked out and got to test drive a used 2019 Touring edition we found in stock at a nearby dealer. Many thanks to everyone participating here for their contributed reviews and information - even with partial absorption, I was very prepared and was able to optimize the limited time available (about an hour) to get a reasonably complete impression of the Clarity's features.

I found no surprises during the test - more like confirmation of expectations. Fortunately the battery was fully charged, so most of the test driving was done in EV Eco and Sport modes, the latter to get a better sense of regen feel with paddle use. I made the ICE start by accelerating hard, and it was nice to know that only after fully warming up, it would shut down automatically, and it did just that. ICE noise was minimal (this was not an "angry bees" situation). I took it on the freeway and the ACC was really cool - it kept a constant following distance regardless of entering higher set speeds, and it accurately corrected when I set different follow distances, perhaps a bit slow but not excessively so. Lane keeping and the blind spot camera were nice, but for some reason my wife and salesperson, also in the car, were against testing the collision avoidance feature :surprise:. Overall the driving performance was better than or equal to the Accord we currently own (at least below 60 mph). It was interesting that while I couldn't quantify it, or notice a real impact on handling or steering, the Clarity somehow "felt" like the heavier (4000 lb) car that it is, compared to the Accord (3200 lb). I suppose that extra weight (and momentum) might be an issue if the tires ever lose traction on snow or ice, but with the included stability and anti lock safety features, together with the extra weight itself, loss of traction should be less likely to occur in the first place as long as excessive speed is avoided. My worst impression? As others have noted, the spray for the wipers is not the greatest - but I can live with it.

After the test drive we are now really committed to acquiring one - but our local dealer has been so slow in responding to enquiries about ordering that I'm getting the feeling they really do not want any Clarity business, even if they don't directly say so. I'll see what happens with a visit in person this week.

Perhaps buying used might be a better approach. Nationwide for instance TRUECar currently has about 23 used 2018 Clarity Touring models (and one 2019) listed. Since on-line sales is their bread and butter, their shipping charge is also much more reasonable than I was quoted for individuals wanting to ship cars ($1200 from mid CA to my location in WA). TRUECar stated a flat rate, around $500, regardless of (48 state) origin and destination. Of course federal tax credits and some other incentives associated with a new car purchase will not be directly available with a used car, but their impact seems to be baked into the asking prices for these pre-owned models, and as a bonus is effective at purchase. At this point the benefit from the Federal tax credit on a new car won't be realized until filing time in 2021.

Am curious if anyone has used TRUECar (or a similar on-line competitor) for purchasing used, and if so, what their experience was?
 

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My impression reading comments from people in colder climates is that Clarity is not that great for snow or ice unless you get snow tires then it's fine. Some say it's okay with just all season tires but of course it all depends on the specific conditions for your roads. What most people in those areas are doing is purchasing used Civic or Accord 17 inch wheels and putting snow tires on them.

Where I live just north of Atlanta snow is maybe a once a year thing and only lasts a day or two so I won't be getting snow tires but I will probably just avoid driving my Clarity in snow, which is pretty easy to do in Atlanta because schools and businesses typically shut down here when it snows. Makes people in the northern states laugh but it's safer because we don't have snowplows or other infrastructure to handle snow, and anyway most people here don't know how to drive in snow so they usually advise everyone to stay home except for people who have to go to work like hospital workers, etc. I have driven in those conditions here in my previous car and it does help very much that most people are staying home, makes it much safer for those who do have to drive. But of course in places where snow is more routine you can't stay home, and probably need some snow tires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Searching for Clarity Achieved

Right after Christmas four 2019 Clarity base trim models showed up at dealers here: 2 at Capital Honda in Olympia, and 2 (now 1) at Honda of Kirkland. A fifth base Clarity is reportedly arriving at Klein Honda in Everett on Jan 10. Also, there is a 2018 Touring trim Certified Used Clarity in Oregon, at Wilsonville Honda.

I don't know what the story is with this sudden supply after a virtual drought since November. Perhaps 2020 model year cars are now in the pipeline for CA, and maybe an excess of unsold 2019 Clarity(s) in CA is allowing allocations to be made to other states? The sweet CA incentives of course are not available here, but at best those were severely limited for non CA residents anyway, and buying local is certainly more convenient.

We had been interested in a Touring edition, but when the right color (solar silver metallic) base model showed at Honda of Kirkland, we called to confirm and made a reservation for a test drive. The test drive helped us decide that the few additional Touring features were not essential (having already test driven the used Touring in Wilsonville), so we purchased the 2019 base Clarity. It was built in Oct, 2019, so if it did come through California, it did not stay there very long. We used the Costco program and negotiated further on the nuisance pre installed options (wheel locks, door edge protection, stain & paint protection, and a RainX type product on the windshield. Aside from having no interest in these to begin with, they were way overpriced at $1000 for the package). We ended up with about $1500 off MSRP all told, plus TTL, a bit better than I was expecting given recent scarcity. There is a sales tax exemption in WA on the first $25K value for EVs and qualifying PHEVs in WA state, and of course there is the Federal $7,500 tax credit, so that helps too. We drove it home (150 miles) on 3 gal of gas, and so far we're very happy with the purchase.

Good luck to other searchers of Clarity!
 
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