(Was) Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

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(Was) Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » Jul 28, 2009 9:22 am

My 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid just turned 100k miles this weekend.

So far, I can notice some degradation in the capacity of the Nimh pack, but it is still fully functional. My daily commute takes me over a couple of medium sized hills on the freeway, which can nearly deplete the battery when climbing. It nearly fully recharges by the time I get to the bottom on the other side. Since I cross the same hills on the way home, the total charge/discharge cycles on the pack are considerable (thousands).

The car has never failed other than tires blowing and the windshield getting cracked by a rock. The front brake pads are almost getting to the point where they need replacement (still on original pads).

My gas mileage averages around 42-43 mpg (measured at the pump). I think it would be quite a bit higher if I didn't have those hills to deal with or if I drove at the speed limit.

The only maintenance done so far is to change the oil (10,000 mile recommended interval) and the CVT transmission oil (30k mile interval), along with the filters, including the air filter. There have been two software updates for the car computer that were covered by warranty (no charge).

Now that the warranty is fully expired, I guess I can see about hacking the battery. I have not seen a plug-in pack conversion for Hondas, so it could be quite challenging (impossible).

Now, if we could just get e-bikes up to this level of reliability...
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by Doctorbass » Jul 28, 2009 10:24 am

fechter wrote:My 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid just turned 100k miles this weekend.

So far, I can notice some degradation in the capacity of the Nimh pack, but it is still fully functional. My daily commute takes me over a couple of medium sized hills on the freeway, which can nearly deplete the battery when climbing. It nearly fully recharges by the time I get to the bottom on the other side. Since I cross the same hills on the way home, the total charge/discharge cycles on the pack are considerable (thousands).

The car has never failed other than tires blowing and the windshield getting cracked by a rock. The front brake pads are almost getting to the point where they need replacement (still on original pads).

My gas mileage averages around 42-43 mpg (measured at the pump). I think it would be quite a bit higher if I didn't have those hills to deal with or if I drove at the speed limit.

The only maintenance done so far is to change the oil (10,000 mile recommended interval) and the CVT transmission oil (30k mile interval), along with the filters, including the air filter. There have been two software updates for the car computer that were covered by warranty (no charge).

Now that the warranty is fully expired, I guess I can see about hacking the battery. I have not seen a plug-in pack conversion for Hondas, so it could be quite challenging (impossible).

Now, if we could just get e-bikes up to this level of reliability...
That's great info fechter, Thanks,

Do you have any info on how many equivalent battery cycles that millage could correspoond to?

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » Jul 28, 2009 2:28 pm

Doctorbass wrote:
Do you have any info on how many equivalent battery cycles that millage could correspoond to?

Doc
I estimate that's about 3,000 battery cycles.
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by dragonfire » Jul 28, 2009 2:59 pm

interresting, do you know the manufacturer of the packs ?

if keeping nimh on there, "saft" has several interrestic nimh traction batteries, these can be refilled with destilled water and where designed for vehicle application and usage (both fitting their military customers and for the manufacturer twike that had that one more upscale version never made it into production, the "twike.me")

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » Jul 29, 2009 8:58 am

dragonfire wrote:interresting, do you know the manufacturer of the packs ?
I've never opened it up to take a look, so I'm not sure. I thought they were Panasonic or something.
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by spinningmagnets » Jul 29, 2009 9:37 am

Fechter, I imagine you've done more research on these than the average interested bystander, so...

I felt it was quite telling about customer fickleness when the original 2-seat Honda Insight had to be discontinued (in the US) due to low sales. Some polls showed that green-minded buyers felt if the fuel mileage and price were about the same, they preferred to have 4 seats. Perhaps when "reducing our carbon footprint" they still wanted to occasionally go to a restaurant with friends (in one car, not two).

Another possible influencing factor is that even as early as when the Prius first came out, "Plug-in Hybrids" were of interest to passionate early-adopters. I'm told that compared to the early patented Honda system, the Prius was recognised as easier to upgrade into a plug-in hybrid (with potentially a 30 minute electric-only range). IIRC, a company called Hymotion was doing conversions.

With your description of draining the battery on an uphill, I realized I am not familiar with the 2003 gasoline/electric operating protocol. My question is, when your Civics battery finally loses enough capacity and function so as to be unusable, could a simple computer patch and Lithium battery make it a 30-minute plug-in hybrid?

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by dnmun » Jul 29, 2009 11:17 am

the honda IMA and the toyota synergy systems are totally different.

the toyota has the electric motor/generator on a separate power shaft in PARALLEL with the ice. they are combined throguh a planetary drive coupling the power to the wheels through a CVT.

the honda IMA uses a motor/generator in SERIES with the ice by putting them both on the same shaft and the output goes to the trannie from that shaft. the ice is always running if the car is driving. the insight would turn off the motor when it came to a stop, and turn on when it was put back into gear or let off the brakes.

the toyota system is able to use the extra plug in pack to supplement the regular pack to extend the range of electric power.

there are ways to supplement the ice of the honda IMA by adding extra plug in packs and modifying the controller to force the IMA to use more electric assist than normal. this allows the insight guys to push their hacks to over 99mpg from the 60mpg stock.

i think magnets argument about hauling friends is bogus. people in this country drive fat cars, that is it. if you have a small light car then it feels vulnerable to the huge GMC yukons and super expeditions or pickup trucks which weigh 3-4 times as much.

there is no attendent liability in this country of having the fat truck or car. if they had a law as in europe or china increasing the sales tax on the basis of weight, then the insight would have had more success imo.

say a federal tax of zero for any vehicle under one ton, 2200lbs. add about 25cents/lb over that so a fat yukon at 6200 lbs would have an excise tax of $1000. instead of getting a tax break for being fat. we could do the same thing for health care. charge fat people more since they cost more to keep them fat. or charge smokers and drinkers more because it costs more to keep them alive. then set a limit of say $1k on medical to cover their oxygen when they get emphysema. maybe people would change their behavior, but fat is what sells in this country while over a billion people are starving in the rest of the world and they watch as we melt down the corn drop for alcohol to put in the fat cars. shame.

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by dragonfire » Jul 29, 2009 3:13 pm

spinningmagnets wrote:Fechter, I imagine you've done more research on these than the average interested bystander, so...

I felt it was quite telling about customer fickleness when the original 2-seat Honda Insight had to be discontinued (in the US) due to low sales. Some polls showed that green-minded buyers felt if the fuel mileage and price were about the same, they preferred to have 4 seats. Perhaps when "reducing our carbon footprint" they still wanted to occasionally go to a restaurant with friends (in one car, not two).

Another possible influencing factor is that even as early as when the Prius first came out, "Plug-in Hybrids" were of interest to passionate early-adopters. I'm told that compared to the early patented Honda system, the Prius was recognised as easier to upgrade into a plug-in hybrid (with potentially a 30 minute electric-only range). IIRC, a company called Hymotion was doing conversions.

With your description of draining the battery on an uphill, I realized I am not familiar with the 2003 gasoline/electric operating protocol. My question is, when your Civics battery finally loses enough capacity and function so as to be unusable, could a simple computer patch and Lithium battery make it a 30-minute plug-in hybrid?
if the company that comes into mind with me is the one you are referring to it´s the on that stored a123 cells in the space of the spare tire and also had another kit to fast-recharge this and the onboard supercaps in little time only ?

this worked cause the controller of the company simply recharged the supercaps in direct so the toyota-oem controller could be left in the "batterie only" setting conveniently and without much haxxoring, they also had the same speed limitation son "pure electric" drive mode than the regular prius has.

the prius has panasonics like the civic sedan, seemingly.
this hinda 2-seat is looking somewhat "gay" but i think it´s an overall ok design for a japanese electric car, these will be collectors item in a not too far future as i suppose.

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by spinningmagnets » Jul 29, 2009 4:17 pm

The original Honda Insight was a light aerodynamic 2-seater, but even though Honda is re-introducing the "Insight" name, every major car magazine has compared the 2010 Prius and Insight, which is now a 4-seater that is visually very similar to the 2010 Prius.

I was glad to see Honda's hybrid drivetrain continued and possibly improved while putting it in a Civic. I believe the original 2-seat Insight would be a great basis for an EV conversion after its original drivetrain wore out, as its already light and aerodynamic.

That being said, if the Prius continues to be easily upgradable to a plug-in hybrid, it would be my first choice if forced to buy a new hybrid.

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » Aug 01, 2009 10:13 am

The original Insight would be a good candidate for an all electric conversion.

On the new Civic hybrids, the electric assist can operate without gas. The electric motor is part of the engine flywheel, so the ICE has to be turning, but there is an electric valve disconnect that basically makes the ICE freewheeling during this mode. The fuel injectors also turn off when doing this. On the older ones like mine, the freewheeling/no fuel mode only happens during coasting or regen, not during acceleration.

I'll have to read up on what the Insight guys are doing. Hacking the IMA computer to increase the amount of electric assist was my thought too, but I have no idea how to go about it. All the communication goes via CAN bus.
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by dragonfire » Aug 01, 2009 10:26 am

the engine management of the different cars will be different, too. you´ll need someone that can read, understand and alter the firmware settings ( aka knows about the type of assembler speech used and understanding the singular value´s meaning for the operation), if pickin the right values and operators it´s virtually not much to change but it should better be the right settings. these will not be pusblished anywhere most likely, but there may be a small chance that the testing stations of the garages allow to alter these settings, too. i know volvo doesa lot like that on the bifuel cars.
if there are forums or subforms screen them for a knowledgeable dealers garage, these may be to alter these settings allready.

if this doens´t work i´d recommend to befriend a chiptuner and see if he wants to have a try ( with potential error) on this :)

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by dnmun » Aug 01, 2009 10:28 am

google will help find some links, i remember the 99mpg.com site and there is insightcentral.com, as i recall.

there used to be a 2003 civic hybrid with the 5 speed parked up the street and i always thought it was just a really nice car.

my old girlfriend has 360k on her '87CRX, still gets 37mpg, and they have a 2007 civic EX now, 41mpg on the freeway.

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by reagle » Aug 01, 2009 2:52 pm

Fechter, it's nice to know these cars are so good- my own 07 Civic Hybrid is already on 30K :)
Biggest issue so far was a firmware bug that's still somewhat unresolved- having to with when ICE engine shuts off in autostop condition and the vehicle is still rolling. An admittedly tricky situation, this results in an occasional bump when things finally align. As far as making these things into plug-ins, I am a bit more familiar with Prius conversions, where they use an auxiliary battery connected in parallel to the original pack and a bit of hacking of the vehicle CAN bus to make it use more of an assist. They would use the aux battery until depleted, then disconnect it.
Batteries in both Civic Hybrid and Prius are made by Panasonic.

Getting 46-48mpg here on my daily drive to work,with occasional 52 or so on long trips with wind in the back and temperature in the right range ;)

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » Aug 04, 2009 9:19 am

reagle wrote:Fechter, it's nice to know these cars are so good- my own 07 Civic Hybrid is already on 30K :)
Biggest issue so far was a firmware bug that's still somewhat unresolved- having to with when ICE engine shuts off in autostop condition and the vehicle is still rolling. An admittedly tricky situation, this results in an occasional bump when things finally align.
Yes, I've made that happen before, but now if I get into that mode, I fully release the brakes for a second to bump the ICE back on before it gets rolling too fast.

The other weird thing it can do is partially engage the clutch if you are rolling backward down a hill in neutral. This is odd, but is not really an issue.
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by reagle » Aug 05, 2009 8:44 pm

I found the best thing to do when slowly rolling to a stop is to actually stop for a moment and the it's all nice and smooth.If i try to roll into the restart, it works half of the time

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by Cackalacka » Aug 06, 2009 12:22 pm

Congrats Fetcher,

My '95 Civic was the finest piece of car I've ever owned. If only they had hatch hybrid Civics, I'd have bought one yesterday.

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » May 15, 2011 8:12 pm

I'm reviving this thread to continue the log on the Civic Hybrid.
At around 110,000mi, the front brake pads finally needed replacment. Pretty good on brake wear.

At around 128,000mi, the IMA warning light came on for the first time. The manual says use the $2,000 Honda scan tool to read the codes, but I found out that you can simply install a jumper wire into the diagnostic connector and the code will blink out on the IMA light. My code translated to "deteriorated battery module".

A new pack from the dealer goes for around $2,300 plus tax. More than the car is worth, really.

More research on Insight Central, shows this is a pretty common failure after this mileage. Rebuilt packs can be had for around $1200, but I'm still too cheap for that. It seems that it might be the cells have gotten out of balance over time and this could be the main reason I'm getting reduced capacity. During normal driving, the pack rarely if ever reaches full charge, so there is no mechanism to re-balance the cells. With 120 in series, I can see how this could easily happen.
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by neptronix » May 15, 2011 11:10 pm

Hmm, i don't see any 120 cell balancers on hobbyking :mrgreen:

You're lucky your pack made it *that* far. I have heard of NiMH packs failing within a few years on newer models.
There was a recall for it that made the battery charge/discharge range more shallow which killed the fuel economy on the newer cars.

$1,200 sucks to pay, but think of how much gas that car saved you.
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » May 16, 2011 9:13 am

neptronix wrote:Hmm, i don't see any 120 cell balancers on hobbyking :mrgreen:
Right. So here's what I came up with, a surplus electrophoresis power supply that can do a constant current up to 400mA and up to 300V.
Img_0070.jpg
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To access the IMA system, I needed to remove the rear seat back and take out a bunch of screws holding the cover plate.
Good thing I didn't get killed:
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Then I had to remove the pack from the mounting enough to get access to the connection points to attach a charging cable. That battery pack is one heavy sucker.
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The charging cable has an in-line diode and fuse near the connection point. This will prevent the pack from discharging through the charging cable (safe to short out or touch when charger is not connected). The charger cable was routed back to the trunk where I can locate the charger.
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I let the thing run overnight at 300mA. That should be enough to fully charge and equalize all the cells. By morning, pack temp was up to 130F. I need to set up a fan or power the stock fan to cool the pack during charging.

So after charging it fully, I did my ususal commute to work this morning. The battery charge indicator climbed to full bars shortly after starting the car (that was cool). Things looked great... until I hit the big hill on the freeway. About half way up the hill, my boost turned to regen even though the battery meter was showing about 50%. On the downhill side, the IMA warning light came back on near the bottom. This tells me that there are still weak cells that do not have full capacity. I'll try another charge/discharge cycle and see if I get any improvement. I suspect I have some bad cells in there, and have a couple of good battery modules to try swapping out, but I can see that is going to be a time-consuming project.

Here's the charger in operation. I placed a temperature probe into the pack to monitor pack temp during charging.
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by Tyler » May 16, 2011 11:09 pm

I've got 112,000 miles on my 2003 Civic Hybrid. It has been a remarkably low-maintenance car.
I have 240,000 miles on my 1986 Civic CRX. Both it and the hybrid typically get about 40 mpg. The CRX got 50 mpg when it was new.

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by neptronix » May 17, 2011 12:08 am

Looks like the beginnings of a plug-in hybrid ... ;]
Whaddya think.. big ol' array of used nimh batteries hooked in parallel maybe.. give it a couple kWh..

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2006-200 ... 20b94f36b3

checking the cell balances.. doesn't sound too fun !
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by jonescg » May 17, 2011 3:49 am

I would have thought it would make a good 100% EV conversion wouldn't you? What motors / controller does it use? A sweet 40 kWh pack of A123s would work...?

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » May 17, 2011 8:13 am

If that pack on eBay was the right one for my car, I would probably jump on it. I'm pretty sure the modules are different though, and for sure the entire pack is a different shape. I suppose it would be possible to add a pack to the existing one and run it like a plug in hybrid. Guys on Insight Central have the necessary computer hacks to force the IMA into a higher boost mode to make use of increased pack capacity.

I always thought the Insight would be a great pure EV conversion since it's very lightweight and has good aerodynamics. My Civic shares the same IMA system as the earlier Insights, but the electric motor would be underpowered for driving the whole car. I think it's 15kW or so. The electric motor is also part of the engine flywheel, so couldn't be operated without the ICE in place, though a good machinist could probably graft a few of them together in a way that doesn't require the gas engine.

On the first 'balancing' cycle, the battery topped out at around 173v, then came down to 168v by morning. When I started the car, the SOC indicator recalibrated itself and rose to full bars. Cool. The real test is going up the Waldo Grade, which is about a 800 foot climb on the freeway I do every day on my commute to work. Even when the car was new, this climb would generally drain the pack almost completely and it would lose boost near the top. So with a full charge, the car made it about half way up when the boost turned to regen even though the SOC meter was still showing about half. This indicates one or more modules hit the LVC point during discharge.

That evening, I ran the charger again. This time the voltage got up to 178V by morning. If there was a peak, I missed it. So something is definitely going on with the cells to see a 10V increase over the previous day. On my commute going up the hill, it stayed on boost almost to the very top and the SOC meter was near zero at that time. This indicates some improvement in battery condition. From what I can gather, the reconditioning cycle should go from extended overcharge (to balance the cells), to a full discharge, which I can do by driving the car to work. I'll do a few more cycles to see what improvement I get before I consider ripping the pack apart.
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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by jonescg » May 17, 2011 8:25 am

So what is the intention of the motor/ICE setup? Use electricity for slow starts, then have the ICE kick in when you plant the foot? I still haven't worked out how a hybrid works from the drivers perspective.

Without knowing anything about Honda cars (only two wheels for me :)) I wonder if you couldn't just drop an 11" series wound DC motor in there. Or some other equally capable motor - maybe brushless? It's front wheel drive I assume? I was surprised at how cheap* it can be to do a conversion - $15k for a great car while the iMEIV will set you back 60k!

* relatively speaking

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid goes 100,000 miles with no problems

Post by fechter » May 17, 2011 8:39 am

The electric motor adds power during acceleration and hill climbing, and regenerates during braking or going downhill. The gas engine is a 1.3L tiny little thing (smaller than many motorcycles). Without the electric assist, it's incredibly gutless on takeoff. The combination of the small ICE and electric boost gives the improvement in fuel economy. It also has auto stop, when you come to a stop, the ICE shuts down and restarts the engine as soon as you take your foot off the brake.

Yes it is front wheel drive, transversely mounted. Mine has a CVT transmission, but they also made a stick shift model. I suppose you could rip out the ICE and replace it with a big electric motor, but I don't think the Civic would be any better than a lot of other cars to make a conversion. Personally, I think an old CRX would be much better.
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