Honda Clarity PHEV Outsells Toyota Prius Prime Plug-In Hybrid Again

MAR 4 2019 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 64

Clarity PHEV crowned plug-in hybrid champ in U.S. last month, but just barely.

Believe it or not, for the third time in a row now, the Honda Clarity PHEV topped the plug-in hybrid sales chart.

For three consecutive months, we estimate the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid outsold the Toyota Prius Prime in the U.S. However, the margin of victory in February was super slim. Like down to the wire type stuff.

By logging a confirmed sales total of 2,770 units in December 2018, the Clarity PHEV outsold all other plug-in hybrids offered in the U.S. for the first time ever. Then, it again topped the PHEV sales chart in January by edging out the Toyota Prius Prime. Clarity PHEV sales for January checked in at 1,192 units, to the Prime’s reported 1,123. But in February, the race tightened up considerably with just 8 sales separating the two models. Clarity PHEV sales came in officially at 1,213 to Prius Prime estimated sales of 1,205 in February.

The Clarity’s rise to the top came shortly after Chevrolet announced the death of the Volt. With Volt sales now dwindling, the Clarity PHEV’s only real challenger is the Toyota Prius Prime,

However, if we include pure electric cars in the mix, the Tesla Model 3 easily takes the #1 spot with 5,750 estimated U.S. sales in February.

The Clarity PHEV is spacious for a plug-in hybrid. Additionally, its electric range is on the high side at 47 miles, which is only outdone by the Volt’s 53-mile electric rating.

Discuss the Honda Clarity PHEV in our highly popular InsideEVs sub-forum here

The Honda Clarity comes in three distinct versions. There’s the aforementioned plug-in hybrid, which is the highest volume car of the trio. However, Honda also offers a pure battery-electric version, as well as a hydrogen fuel-cell Clarity.

Here’s the breakdown for each version of the Clarity in regards to sales in the U.S. last month:

  • Clarity Plug-in Hybrid – 1,213
  • Clarity Electric – 68
  • Clarity Fuel Cell – 0

Categories: Honda, Sales, Toyota

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64 Comments on "Honda Clarity PHEV Outsells Toyota Prius Prime Plug-In Hybrid Again"

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My faith in humanity may be renewed! People had to realize the PP is POS at some point!

Hopefully the trend continues and Toyota realizes they can’t keep releasing substandard PHEVs and fighting BEVs.

The only reason why the Prius Prime is doing so well is because when someone goes to Toyota to buy a Prius, after the tax credit the Prime is cheaper than a regular Prius! Which is why the Prime has cannibalized Prius sales.

Personally I think Toyota is wasting their tax credits on the Prime. They should have put in a larger battery and make use of the full 7.5k, instead they just get only 4k in tax credits that gets eaten out of their 200k pool.

I think Toyota is just scared that if they put in a large enough battery, people will notice they can just drive on battery only and move to a full BEV for their next car.

Anyways, its good to see the clarity phev do well and hope more manufacturers offer PHEVs with more range than an average commute.

>> They should have put in a larger battery and make use of the full 7.5k

Those tax-credits are for each automaker to establish an offering to appeal to their own customers. GM wasted that opportunity by going after conquest sales. Suggesting Toyota should do the same is a terrible idea.

Prius Prime already delivers a full electric-only driving experience. So what if the current battery-capacity doesn’t serve the entire market. There are more than enough customers who will purchase this current offering. As the cost for more battery drops, more can be added later. That’s a normal expectation for generation improvement. Reality is, Toyota is brave to take the risk of keeping the configuration affordable.

Remember, the goal is to get people to stop buying traditional vehicles, not to drive electric-only. Having an engine run on longer trips is the point of it being a plug-in hybrid. Adaptation of the HSD system to us a larger battery-pack and a plug significantly reduces gas consumption. In my case, I’m averaging 125 MPG, despite several long highway trips per year and the cold winters of Minnesota.

Sorry, but it is a terrible idea and here is why:
1) All the prius prime is doing is cannibalize prius sales
2) Due to the small battery, most prius prime owners don’t even bother to charge it and treat it like a regular prius

This doesn’t help at all.

And the tax credit is $417 per kwh, the cost of batteries on average in end of 2017 was $209 per kwh.

The prius prime has a 8.8kwh battery so it gets $4502 tax credit. If Toyota doubled it to 16kwh, it would have raised the price by $1630 but netted an additional 3k in tax credits.

Aka, the prius prime would have been CHEAPER with a larger battery while offering more range.

>> 1) All the prius prime is doing is cannibalize prius sales

More electrification is the goal. Over time, the other hybrid owners… Camry, RAV4, Corolla, C-HR… will upgrade to a plug-in as well.

They are already upgrading to plugins not made by toyota and the defector numbers are growing pretty fast, it is a huge mass. However I really like how former lexus onwers jumped ship to Tesla, they are still waiting for them to return, but instead they get even more defectors jumping to Model 3, Hyundai/Kia and so on which offer plugins which make sense.

Know your audience. That “defectors” label is just another name for conquest sales. Purchases using tax-credits are early-adopters, not at all representative of ordinary consumers. This stage now is very different from what showroom shoppers will experience.

Xcel is correct to point out that Lexus is getting trounced by Tesla. Toyota really dropped the ball there.

Tax-Credit subsidized sales have nothing to do with long-term outcome.

Some learn from pregame practice. Others don’t.

Thinking that the early-adopter market is the same as mainstream was the fatal mistake GM made. Toyota saw and avoided trap.

Camry, RAV4, Corolla, C-HR Are Hybrids now 2019. and Lexus models too. Tesla You run out of Battery and you are screwed Toyota Prius Prime (plug-in) you have gas to still drive. Do not talk trash about my Prius. Without the 1997 Prius you would not have your companies doing EV cars. All i can say to that is other than the Toyota (s) you are just “Copy cats” now that Toyota’s patents have expired.

>> 2) Due to the small battery, most prius prime owners don’t even bother to charge it

Who do you expect to believe that nonsense? Go read posts on Prius forums. Notice how many are asking what they need to do to upgrade from their current 120-volt charger to a 240-volt.

There are enough people who are dumb enough to buy the PP, buy smart enough to operate a computer, to make an internet forum viable? Amazing.

John, I’m still curious how Toyota marketing compensates you. Is it by the post? Does making ridiculous claims and mentioning “vapor injected heat pumps” get you extra cash?

The Prius is a well engineered car, the issue they have is they don’t really understand their market. There are a group of people that really like the Prius, it gets great gas mileage, it is reliable, etc. However, it is a fairly small group.

Toyota is probably wondering where all their buyers disappeared off to. At least in the US they finally get that moving the hybrids to all their regular vehicles will win sales back from their own Prius, but I think they are missing that they are going to lose those buyers to companies like Tesla, who make cars people actually want.

RAV4 hybrid clearly doesn’t fit that out-of-touch impression.

The question is, will it win new buyers? Maybe from Nissan and Honda. However, I think it will make a few good years then start dropping from the onslaught of cheap BEV CUVs.

Why are you pushing a narrative that RAV4 won’t also offer a plug ?

I am not, maybe I will be proven wrong and it offers a full BEV version with good performance and price to Match Model Y. My hunch is it does not given Toyota’s past comments and offerings.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

If it offers a RAV-4 PHEV, that would be a stronger signal of the end for the Prius. RAV4 was already outselling the Prius in California in 2018Q1 by 50%, and Prius sales have continued to decline, so it’d be probably be easier to earn the credits through the RAV4.

Then, in a year or two they can re-introduce the RAV4 EV. Plenty of space in the vehicle to fit a decent amount of battery, it’d earn them more credits per vehicle, and the credits would be ZEV instead of TZEV.

Thinking a CUV is the same as a hatchback its not constructive.

Remember, the entire fleet will be electrified with a variety of choices

One size does not fit all.

2019 Prius prime it is $9,000.00 with a new Lithium battery. and B mode driving charges the EV battery. do the research on B mode Prius Prime 2019.

The issue is that the Prime is based on the Prius chassis, which was never meant to hold a large load. That’s why the battery can’t be too big and the back only holds 2 people.

It should be no big problem for Toyota to beef up the chassis the way they did for the Prius V wagon.

The issue is the increased weight would mean the electric motor needs to be larger and that would reduce the EV range. All the Prius models are under powered to begin with.

Toyota Prius Started the EV Hybrid cars all other companies are just copying them now that Toyota’s Patents are expired. And No one talks about the Chinese Nio giving Tesla and Lamborghini a run for they money. American car companies will be left bind the times if they do not get on the EV hybrid or total Eclectic car movement. I do agree Toyota needs a lager battery ( or allow the Gas to charge the EV battery.

A superior PHEV beats an inferior one.

Just wait until the new lower priced Tesla’s and the Y start to even more heavily erode the inferior Toyota lineup.

I think Toyota is underestimating how much Tesla will erode their entire lineup, starting with their most profitable vehicles in segments Tesla is competing in.

LOL All EV vers. Prius Hybrid. I still have gas to finish my trip without a charging station before i get there at 70 Miles and Hour .

The real reason the Clarity is winning out is because Honda is stocking them nation wide. The Prius Prime is still mainly found in CARB states. It can be a real challenge to buy one in the rest of the country. I’d like to think the EV range was the reason, but I don’t think it is.

46 Prius Prime are available within 500 miles of where I live… in the center of the country.

Toyota simply hasn’t rolled them out everywhere yet.

Also being in the center of the USA, I did a couple of quick searches too within 500 miles of me:
Prime: 37
Clarity: 134

Only 1 prime within 100 miles of me (with stock photo which usually means not on property). Further than that is a range most non-enthusiasts don’t travel while car shopping.

Here in the SE the Prime is special order only, most people won’t buy a car that’s not on the lot. Toyota is dragging their feet and trying to avoid electrification. Sadly, if they went all in they could be a leader, all their experience with their hybrids and all that money!

Similar here, 85 Prius Prime within 500 miles, 339 Bolt EVs, 327 Clarity PHEVs. Stock is a little thin, which might be hurting sales. However, a year and a half ago, not long after the car came out, the local dealer had one at a drive electric week event. He said they had the one for months and weren’t able to sell them. So there is that. Granted, some areas probably sell very well, but it seems their market has shrunk substantially.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

They’re not going to roll them out. It’s a CARB compliance car and it only earns TZEV credits, which are a decreasing proportion of total credits in CARB states. They’ll use their credit bank and then introduce a BEV.

There’s many places Prius was not that popular, so those dealers won’t carry many. I checked two Texas dealers, only 5 or 6 total Prius in over 400 vehicles at each. Same in other dealers where larger vehicles are popular and gas is cheap.

Ironically, Honda put vehicles in almost every dealer, so some places where hybrids are not popular people can get good deals.

When we bought our Clarity we did a lot of online shopping first. We found the best deal, $35k for the Touring out the door, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Western Nebraska is not a place where PHEV’s will be popular.

The real challenge is to see them side by side and still buy the Prius. Now that’s hard!

Wrong. There’s some on Ohio

The Prius is a case by case order from Japan. Not assembled in the USA. Only made in Japan. (like a Custom order).

Bought a Clarity on Feb. 28th. I was interested in the PP but the Toyota dealership was not going to budge on the full MSRP for the car. I liked the more luxurious feel of the Clarity, the higher rebate and (the kicker) the Honda dealer was willing to deal to sell the car. I had 3 local Honda dealerships beating each other up to make the sale. Very happy with the purchase, the level 2 unit arrives tomorrow.

I have exactly the same story. Honda dealerships might not know what to do with the Clarity, but they will go for each others’ throats to sell you one. Between this, the tax credit, and the limited availability of the Prime, I was able to purchase a Clarity for the price of a mid-trim Prime.

The Prime is a dependable vehicle, and I’m glad it’s taking its chunk out of ICEV sales. But the Clarity has nearly twice the EV range, an Acura-quality interior, and 40% faster 0-60 with passing power to spare.

Yes – while I have no problem with the Prius Prime (although I wish Toyota would try a bit harder – of course I’ve almost entirely given up on GM – I just bought a 2019 Volt before they are all totally gone) , the Clarity PHEV I’ve test driven seems to me to be both an EXCELLENT vehicle – and has the features I and many others want, namely high efficiency, high value, mid-sized space, and a large electric-only range.

It was a tough decision for me between the Clarity and the Volt. But when the VOLT is no more, people will almost all drift to the Clarity, unless Toyota does something other than what they are currently doing… But even they will pick up some otherwise Volt buyers.

So nice to see toyota failing again. It is going to be a train wreck for them.

What happened to those “self-charging” toyota hybrids which need filling like any regular car for the last century or two. Their “self-charging” fuel cells are not selling well too, a terrible situation for the old coots.

Automakers must offer a variety of choices. To have a strong business (profitable & sustainable), diversification is required. The belief that all advertisements must send the identical message is a greenwash narrative. All customers are not the same. Again, know your audience.

Love the clarity PHEV powertrain but why did they have to make it sooooo ugly?

I totally agree with you on this. It is amazing from a technical standpoint, but no way could I buy this car. It looks surprisingly bad.

I suspect some of the look was driven by the need to accommodate an H2 tank for the fuel cell version.

The Clarity is kind of a tragedy. Honda is unwilling to commit to full BEVs, so they bring out a compromise platform which depends on fuel cells or an ICE, along with an irrelevant BEV with laughable range. Note the zero FCEV sales; bet they are glad they spent all that money developing it.

Enough half-measures, Honda – commit to BEVs. Or lose your company as the transition happens.

What does “commit” actually mean ?

We all know that GM’s attempts never targeted their own customers. Yet, they got praise anyway.

By “commit,” I mean plan to convert production to full BEVs, not half-measures like PHEVs with short electric range, or FCEVs.

Details like who the immediate target market is don’t enter into it. Committing to BEVs means you realize that in the not-too-distant future, all your production will be BEVs.

Vague press-releases tell us anything.

Notice how VW really doesn’t include detail in their supposed commitment?

Proof will be in the cars, not the press releases. And that applies to VW as much as it does to Honda.

To be fair, it takes years to develop an all-new model, and even longer if it’s using new and unfamiliar tech. Which is why the legacy automakers need to stop prevaricating and get on with it.

Whatever brought it about, it is a great car. I will use the one I bought, save a lot of gas vs my minivan, and probably replace it with a Tesla when the time comes.

I see the car running 1 generation in the US, as I suspect they lose a lot of money on them, but it prevents them from losing even more money on the Clarity FCV. It didn’t cost them much to develop the PHEV variant, take the powertrain from existing Accord Hybrid and add a larger battery.

I agree though, I see it as a lack of commitment to BEVs, but the Clarity itself is a great car. We have enjoyed the 32,000 miles in ours, and operating costs have been incredibly cheap. Averaging around 40 mpg on gas and efficient on electricity too. We have used about $600 of electricity and $800 worth of gas to drive 32,000 miles. The Minivan it replaced would have been over $4,000 worth of gas (about 3x as expensive).

We have driven Hondas for years. If I were to need to replace our Odyssey right now, I’d look hard at a Clarity. Even so, I expect that by the late 2020s the PHEV Claritys will look a bit obsolete compared to whatever BEVs are around by then.

Honda should put a similar PHEV drivetrain in their other models.

There are rumors of a Pilot with the PHEV drivetrain, but just that, rumors. I suspect the Odyssey could get it too. But really depends. Rumors were around 8 months ago, so maybe this fall? Hard to know, and don’t buy/wait on rumors.

I already told Honda that I will end my 2018 odyssey lease early and get a phev one the moment it comes out. Can’t wait.

How about an AWD HRV with the Clarity PHEV powertrain, perhaps with a slightly bigger battery.

HRV is a smaller vehicle than the Clarity PHEV. The Clarity is more similar to the Honda Pilot. In other words, you won’t fit a bigger battery, likely a smaller battery as the wheel base is 6 inches shorter in the Fit based HRV.

What is surprising is that some people buy the Prime, even with half the range, much less power, cargo and passenger space .. for about the same net price as a Clarity PHEV

To be fair. Honda past track record was not great when it comes to hybrid cars. Hopefully the clarity will erase all those past half hearted attempts to offer consumers phev and hybrid options.

I love My 2019 Prius Prime bought Feb 12, 2019. Only 6 fill-ups of gas and drove 2302 mostly on Ev battery.

Your daily commute distance will determine how many fills ups. But just as a comparison. I have 16000+ miles on my clarity and I only had 8 fill ups.

From what I read, Clarity seemed to have quite a few issues upon release. Have they ironed out any of the bugs with the most recent builds?

I had no issues with mine. My only complaint is that I notice some creaks when you turn sharply and when you go over a speed bumps in the winter. Maybe because In EV mode the car is very quiet I can hear more noises but I still feel that a new car should not have such noises.