If Only the Range Matched the Price: Honda's Clarity EV Leasing for $199 a Month

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

By that, we mean the figure “199,” not the overall cost of leasing. Moving on…

Honda’s only true EV, the Clarity Electric, began arriving at dealers in California and Oregon Thursday, completing a green trifecta that includes a plug-in hybrid variant and hydrogen fuel cell model. It also carries a lease price that undercuts its rivals by quite a bit.

While Clarity EV lessees stand to pay significantly less for their eco-conscious ride, both up front and on a monthly basis, they’d best familiarize themselves with the location of charging stations.

That’s because the Clarity EV has a range of just 89 miles. No, you haven’t travelled back in time to 2012 — it’s just that the Clarity’s battery space is constrained by Honda’s need for a platform that accommodates three propulsion sources.

Because of this, the Clarity EV’s 25.5 kWh battery pack doesn’t measure up to its competitors, though the range is usable for around-town trips and most commutes. (This author still remembers the gnawing fear felt during a long weekend Ford Focus Electric test a few years back. That model offered 76 miles of range.)

Honda clearly recognizes the car’s limitations in its lease offer. City driving is where EVs shine, and, if you never leave city limits, this large, comfortable cruiser makes an attractive proposition. With $1,499 due at signing, lessees pay $199 a month for 36 months. Drivers might find themselves eligible for state incentives totalling $2,500, too, depending on the date and their place of residence.

“We’re upping the ante on both premium appeal and affordability with the 2018 Honda Clarity Electric,” said Steven Center, Honda’s vice president of Connected and Environmental Business Development, in a statement. Center made sure to mention the Clarity’s “premium level of quality” compared to other lower-priced EVs.

Looking at lease offers in the Los Angeles area, the Clarity beats its rivals hands down. A Chevrolet Bolt leases for $376 a month for a 36-month term, with $4,125 due at signing. Mileage tops out at 30,000 miles. The Bolt is the low-priced rangte leader, boasting 238 miles per charge.

Nissan’s newly upgraded Leaf, now offering 151 miles per charge, leases for $229 a month for 36 months, with $3,979 due at signing. The automaker allows 12,000 miles of emission-free driving per year. Compared to that, Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric, only available in California, leases for $295 a month for the same term, but carries a lower down payment of $2,500. Mileage is unlimited.

Honda’s lease allows 20,000 miles per year, plus free roadside assistance. That’s a lot of recharging cycles.

[Images: Honda]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Scout_Number_4 Scout_Number_4 on May 13, 2018

    Just saw one of these in the wild Friday here in the Peoples Republic of Oregon. Had no idea that the release was so limited....just like the range.

  • Carve Carve on May 14, 2018

    "Being designed for 3 different powertrains" being the factor that limits the range sounds like a lame excuse. There has to be a ton of unused space under the hood.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X '19 Nissan Frontier @78000 miles has been oil changes ( eng/ diffs/ tranny/ transfer). Still on original brakes and second set of tires.
  • ChristianWimmer I have a 2018 Mercedes A250 with almost 80,000 km on the clock and a vintage ‘89 Mercedes 500SL R129 with almost 300,000 km.The A250 has had zero issues but the yearly servicing costs are typically expensive from this brand - as expected. Basic yearly service costs around 400 Euros whereas a more comprehensive servicing with new brake pads, spark plugs plus TÜV etc. is in the 1000+ Euro region.The 500SL servicing costs were expensive when it was serviced at a Benz dealer, but they won’t touch this classic anymore. I have it serviced by a mechanic from another Benz dealership who also owns an R129 300SL-24 and he’ll do basic maintenance on it for a mere 150 Euros. I only drive the 500SL about 2000 km a year so running costs are low although the fuel costs are insane here. The 500SL has had two previous owners with full service history. It’s been a reliable car according to the records. The roof folding mechanism needs so adjusting and oiling from time to time but that’s normal.
  • Theflyersfan I wonder how many people recalled these after watching EuroCrash. There's someone one street over that has a similar yellow one of these, and you can tell he loves that car. It was just a tough sell - too expensive, way too heavy, zero passenger space, limited cargo bed, but for a chunk of the population, looked awesome. This was always meant to be a one and done car. Hopefully some are still running 20 years from now so we have a "remember when?" moment with them.
  • Lorenzo A friend bought one of these new. Six months later he traded it in for a Chrysler PT Cruiser. He already had a 1998 Corvette, so I thought he just wanted more passenger space. It turned out someone broke into the SSR and stole $1500 of tools, without even breaking the lock. He figured nobody breaks into a PT Cruiser, but he had a custom trunk lock installed.
  • Jeff Not bad just oil changes and tire rotations. Most of the recalls on my Maverick have been fixed with programming. Did have to buy 1 new tire for my Maverick got a nail in the sidewall.