Honda Pulls Back 2019 Clarity PHEV & Chevy Kills Volt EREV - Tell Us Your Theories As To Why Popular EVs are Going Away
Last month, electric vehicle deliveries in America declined across the board. Even the Tesla Model 3 had a drop compared to last July, and also compared to its recent monthly highs. It's not just battery-electric vehicles with shrinking deliveries in America. The plug-in hybrids and extended-range EVs are also being sold in much lower numbers now than in recent years. First Chevy Killed the Volt EREV while it was a top-seller among affordable EVs, now Honda has pumped the brakes on the much-loved Clarity PHEV. What's going on?
- Here is the July EV sales drop in facts and figures
The Volt is an EV that owners just adore. There are multiple Facebook fan clubs, and our own Dean McManis is a Volt owner and advocate for the Volt and EVs in general. His recent story here, Why the Chevy Volt is Hands Down Better Than the Gen 1 Toyota Prius or the Nissan Leaf, puts into focus just how good the car that Chevy killed off was (or is killing, since Chevy's remaining inventory continues to trickle forth). This kind of writing only comes from the heart. Why in the world is GM killing a car that has won so many hearts?
In my own testing this past year, three affordable electric vehicles really stood out. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, for being the first practical and affordable crossover EV. The Kia Niro BEV for being not just the best EV overall in my opinion, but one of the best affordable cars of any type. And finally, the Honda Clarity PHEV. I loved the Clarity so much I wrote TWO reviews. One in which I tried to manage my bias and one in which I just let it flow. (As an explanation, I am an EV fan, and I am also a fan of Honda).
- Here's the Most Biased Honda Clarity PHEV Story You Will Read
- Honda Clarity PHEV Touring – Here’s the Most Honest Review You Will Read About This Important New Green Car
Honda ramped up its Clarity PHEV to the point that it became the top-selling affordable EV in America. Funny, that was a title that the Volt long-held. Heck, the Volt was the top-selling EV in America overall for many years. If you have not already heard the news, Honda has decided to stop sending inventory of the Clarity PHEV to dealers outside of California. I live on the opposite coast and have friends who ran to buy the Clarity PHEV and love it. Clarity cars are frequently spotted in traffic, and subjectively, I see more of them here in the Commonwealth than I do Tesla Model 3 cars. The Clarity Facebook Club is thriving with happy, active members. So what happened?
Rather than speculate, we asked Honda. We are fortunate to have super support from Honda. We communicated with a Honda spokesperson and asked if the change was due to demand, or if it was due to a lack of avaibale inventory due to production constraints. Here is what Honda told us (and to be clear, we made certain this was on the record and Ok to publish)
"The state of California is the largest market for plug-in hybrid vehicles. In order to meet customer demand we are currently prioritizing supply of the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid in California, rather than allocating units for dealer inventory in other markets. Dealers in all 50 states are able to order Clarity PHEV vehicles and customers can purchase or lease a Clarity PHEV in all markets outside of California. We are always monitoring the market and can make adjustments to supply accordingly, but Honda remains disciplined in our approach of matching supply and demand and, in this case, that means focusing sales of Clarity PHEV vehicles in the market with the strongest consumer demand."
So, the message seems to indicate that the demand is the issue, not the supply. Or perhaps, a combination of the two. Either way, the two leading affordable EVs in America have been pulled back by their manufacturers. So far, Toyota has kept after the Prius Plug-in, but its sales too have dropped back a bit.
This writer's opinion is that affordable electric vehicles using expensive, and hard to source lithium-ion batteries are a failed formula. Even with back-end ZEV mandates and forced trading among Mfgs, and even with massive consumer-facing federal, state, and local discounting, (the June incentives on new Leafs in Mass. before dealer discounting was $13K) affordable EV deliveries continue to shrink. We have carefully documented the peak battery situation, and feel that is the primary problem. But we are interested in what you think is the reason that the top two affordable EVs in the country have been pulled back. Tell us in the comments below.