Name: David DeYoung
Year/make/model: 2018 Honda Clarity
Type: Plug-In Hybrid
Years owned: 2 years
What made you decide to go electric and how did you decide what car to get?
I wanted a vehicle that was more environmentally friendly. And because I occasionally drive to Southern California to visit family, I wanted a car that had reasonable range. When I bought the Clarity, it had the best combination of electric range, gasoline assist for longer trips, and size.
How has the cost of purchasing and owning your EV compared to the cost of purchasing and owning a conventional car?
It isn’t substantially different. The closest vehicle comparable to the Honda Clarity is the Honda Accord. Factoring in the $7,500 federal and $1,500 state tax incentives, the purchase price for the two vehicles is pretty similar. Most of my driving is around town, using electricity, so the cost of fuel/energy to drive the Clarity is somewhat lower than the Accord. I have about 14,000 miles on the Clarity and it has only needed two trips to the shop for routine maintenance. This is about what I would expect had I purchased the Accord.
What have been the biggest challenges of going electric?
Because my version of the Clarity is a plug-in-hybrid, there haven’t been significant challenges. The total (gas plus electric) range is a bit limiting in the Clarity because it only has a 7 gallon gas tank. So on long trips I have to refuel every 250 miles or so, but this isn’t much of a barrier.
What are the biggest misconceptions of going electric?
When it comes to EVs, the two biggest barriers that people cite are range anxiety (not being able to get to where you want to go on a single charge) and purchase price. But with a plug-in hybrid like the Clarity, neither of those are issues. You have a back-up gas engine that can take over if the electric range isn’t enough, and purchase price is about the same as other mid-level sedans once you factor in incentives.
Describe one of the farthest/coolest/most ambitious trips you’ve ever taken in your EV.
We occasionally drive from our home in Davis to visit family in Southern California. We almost always use I-5, since it is the most direct and fastest highway. Last year, we changed our usual pattern by driving back home using Highway 395, following the Eastern Sierras. I have backpacked throughout the Eastern Sierras for decades, and although we didn’t have time on this particular trip to backpack, we did have time to day hike. We took some of the narrow, winding, and steep roads to some backcountry trailheads (including Mosquito Flats, which sits at 10,000 feet). The Clarity, while not engineered for these types of roads, did fine. I was really happy with the gas mileage from Mammoth Lakes to Davis. We averaged 60 miles per gallon without an initial battery charge!
Do you have any good stories about your experience as an EV owner?
We use our Clarity mostly for short trips around town. Because its electric-only range is about 45 miles, most of our driving is electric. We only occasionally go to a service station to fill up the gas tank. Sometimes it is months between fill-ups, and even then, because the gas tank is so small, it is pretty inexpensive. More importantly, it feels good to minimize my use of fossil fuels!
What is the number-one thing you think could be done to encourage more people to go electric?
Make sure that the tax incentives remain in place, so that purchase prices for all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles remain reasonably competitive with gas-powered vehicles. Word of mouth is a great way to let prospective EV buyers know more about owning and maintain an EV, and most EV owners I’ve met are enthusiastic and eager to tell their story. Blogs, events, and other outreach efforts are important for informing people.