Honda to sell gas/electric hybrid car

Honda plans to put the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle on the market in the USA by December this year, for under $20,000.

Using Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA™) hybrid system in combination with a rigid and lightweight aluminium body structure, aerodynamic design and advanced ultra-low emissions technology, the Honda Insight is capable of averaging more than 70 miles/ US gallon (83 miles/UK gallon or 30 km/litre) (EPA combined estimate) while meeting California’s stringent Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) standard – making it the cleanest and most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicle ever offered to American consumers.

The system uses the world’s lightest 1.0 litre, 3-cylinder gasoline engine. The engine uses advanced lean-burn technology, low-friction design and lightweight materials such as aluminium, magnesium and plastic in combination with a new lean burn-compatible NOx catalyst to achieve a new level of efficiency and low emissions in gasoline engine technology.

The electric component of the IMA™ system consists of an ultra-thin (60mm) DC-brushless motor, a 144-volt Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery pack and an advanced electronic Power Control Unit (PCU). Unlike a dedicated electric vehicle, Insight does not require an outside source of electric power. The electric motor draws power from the batteries to boost engine performance to the level of a 1.5 litre gasoline engine and also acts as a generator during braking to recharge the vehicle’s batteries. Power management is provided by the system’s advanced Power Control Unit.

The aluminium chassis uses a combination of extruded, stamped and die-cast aluminium components to minimise weight while optimising rigidity and safety. Giving a body weight some 40 percent less than a comparable steel body.

Most of the vehicle’s body panels are aluminium, which are lighter yet more rigid than traditional steel panels. Front fenders and rear fender skirts are made of recyclable plastic. Other weight-saving features include aluminium-alloy wheels, a magnesium oil pan and plastic head cover.

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