DH’s 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid is starting to make unpleasant putt putt putt sounds. It’s possible that the hybrid battery is going to run out in half a year or so (replacement cost: more than the car is currently worth– 2-3K), and the brakes will probably need to be replaced (~$300) sooner rather than later.
When my sister’s Mini-Cooper, bought around the same time as we got our car, committed suicide on the highway in a cloud of dark smoke (after a few months of unpleasant putt putt putt sounds…), we started looking around at new cars as she decided what to get (she ended up with a gently-used 2016 BMW for 29K, though I am not remembering what model– her second choice was a new 2018 Mazda 3 for 25K ). While doing this, we discovered that Honda has a new plug-in Hybrid called the Clarity. This qualifies for the 7.5K federal tax credit, we’re pretty sure. (We will make sure.) DH drove it and decided he liked it very much, except that fancy new cars no longer have spare tires and the trunk is oddly shaped and won’t fit our big cooler that we take when we drive into the city (we do have smaller soft-bodied coolers and could get a smaller hard-bodied cooler). Then he drove the Hyundai Ioniq and the Toyota Prius and decided he did not like them as much at all (we will still probably get a Prius when we swap out my car, although my sister says the new Accents are much nicer than the model we got, so it is tempting to just replace my car with another $15K Accent, even though we can afford a Prius… and I could in theory get an all electric vehicle since my car just tools around town).
It is not cheap. MSRP is $33,400. But there is that $7.5K tax credit that brings is more in line with what we were expecting to pay for a new car for DH. This is also the first year that this model has been available, and there are some small annoying things that reviewers and current owners say about it. Like, they wish there was a knob for the stereo instead of a button (DH doesn’t mind the button– he uses the steering wheel button, but I LIKE the knob as a passenger). They think the middle of the car looks kind of weird (DH doesn’t mind). The lane correction isn’t as good as in other cars that have it. These and probably many other small annoying things will probably be fixed in the 2019 and 2020 models if the Clarity stays in production. It really isn’t like us to buy a first of anything– we generally buy the most popular and tried item that we can afford within the set of what we’re looking for. We got a Honda Civic Hybrid, but not until they’d ironed out the kinks. Of course, by the time the kinks are ironed out, that phat tax incentive is gone.
If/When we do pull the trigger, I’m planning on emailing all the dealers in a 2 hour radius to ask for a walk-away price to see if I can get them to compete. This is the same strategy that I wrote up for a guest post on Get Rich Slowly many years ago. Some dealers are making it harder to find an email, but generally they do provide emails of individual sales people even if they don’t have an easy to find inquiries email anymore.
My work has a free plug-in station for electric vehicles, though over the past year it has started getting actual use meaning one cannot just drive up and plugin anymore. I assume that they will start charging for it eventually (all the other plug-in stations charge!)
We also have to figure out what to do with the Civic. We can’t keep it because we have a 2-car garage and a 1-car driveway and our HOA tows cars that stay on the street overnight. Kelly Blue Book thinks we’ll get something like 2-3K for a trade-in and 1-2K if we sell it. Donating it would probably get $45 (that is not a typo) *if* we itemized, which is unlikely. DH also considered giving it to his relative who is down to one car (as a hobby, his relative’s father likes to drive and pick up and drop off cars and people all over the country without getting anything in exchange), but after thinking it through he realized that giving his relative something that is soon going to need $300 brakes and won’t work without a $2000 battery is probably not a great idea. On top of that, the Civic Hybrid needs a pit to do oil changes and the closest Honda dealer is 40 min away. I feel a little bit guilty about springing all that on whatever unsuspecting college student would end up buying our car as well, though there’s also the chance that the car will be fine for the next few years and DH is too pessimistic, and if things aren’t fine for this hypothetical college student, there’s a dealership in town. Most likely we’ll trade-in and take very little for the trade-in because it’s too hard to negotiate that part. Oh well, we’re not trying to completely optimize money here.
So, what are your thoughts? What are we missing?