Honda Civic Hybrid

From Honda press: The 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid ushers in a new era of high efficiency transportation by incorporating the second generation of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist technology into the Civic sedan, the perennial best-selling compact car in America. Originally debuting on the Honda Insight in 1999, Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) uses a gasoline engine coupled to an electric motor (creating a hybrid system) that boosts performance and fuel mileage. Since its inception, the goal of Honda's has been to apply IMA technology to a mass-produced vehicle on an existing platform.

After years of development and a proven real world track record with the Insight, the future of high efficiency automotive technology arrives with the introduction of the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid.

The newly developed Civic Hybrid IMA system offers technology that improves performance and provides greater packaging freedom compared to the Insight's IMA system. The heart of the Civic Hybrid's system is a new 1.3-liter i-DSI 4-cylinder engine that is coupled to a high-output electric motor located between the engine and the transmission. While braking or decelerating, energy is re-captured by the electric motor and stored in the battery for later use. As the vehicle accelerates, stored energy is directed to the high-torque electric motor to supplement the engine's performance. All of this takes place automatically without any additional driver input.

The end result is a roomy and comfortable 5-passenger sedan capable of achieving about 50-mpg (a 40 percent increase compared to a conventional Civic LX sedan). Just turn the key and go; like you would in any conventional car, and since the Civic Hybrid's electrical system is completely self-sustaining, it never needs to be plugged in for recharging like an electric vehicle. The Civic Hybrid retains all of the Civic family's class leading safety, performance, refined handling characteristics, reliability and legendary build quality.

The concept for the 2003 Civic Hybrid's powertrain is grounded in simplicity - use a highly efficient gasoline engine and supplement the performance with an electric motor. On the surface, the system may appear complex, but the Civic Hybrid powertrain provides a simple solution for the seemingly incompatible task of combining both efficiency and performance. Honda's solution is its patented Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, which is also referred to as a "hybrid" system because it uses two power sources - gasoline and electricity. This system allows the Civic Hybrid to use a smaller gasoline engine (compared to other Civics) without any significant loss of performance.

The Civic Hybrid IMA system is comprised of three main components: the gasoline engine, the electric motor, and an energy storage device. The electric motor is positioned between the engine and transmission. The electric motor assists the engine when accelerating and recaptures energy when braking or decelerating (regenerative braking). Most of the vehicle's propulsion comes from the gasoline engine with the electric motor providing assist as needed. The IMA system is especially effective when you consider that acceleration requires a significant amount of power and energy (requiring a larger displacement engine at the expense of overall fuel economy), but the extra displacement is not necessary while driving at a constant speed on a level road (where vehicles spend the majority of their time).

The IMA system effectively manages this challenging aspect of vehicle propulsion. The IMA system combines the strengths of the gasoline and electric systems to increase overall efficiency. The electric motor enhances the power provided by the gasoline engine. Reciprocally, the gasoline engine enables the electric motor to operate independently without the need for an outside power source.

The 2003 Civic Hybrid uses a new generation of Honda's IMA technology, building on the one that originally debuted on the 1.0-liter 3-cylinder 2000 Honda Insight. The new Civic Hybrid has a larger 1.3-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine featuring several technology breakthroughs and a more powerful electric motor. Also, numerous electrical system components have been combined, lightened and reduced in size.

The Civic Hybrid's IMA system occupies the same width dimensions in the engine bay as the conventional Civic sedan even with the increased componentry from the IMA system. The 1.3-liter inline 4-cylinder i-DSI engine is shorter than the 1.7-liter inline 4-cylinder engine used in the Civic sedan, which allows room for the 10 kilowatt electric motor/generator to be positioned between the engine and transmission within the same amount of engine bay space. Both transversely mounted powertrains measure the same length, 35.8 inches (883mm). Widthwise from the front of the engine bay to the back, the Civic Hybrid powertrain measures 25.8 inches (575 mm), which is slightly narrower than a conventional Civic.

Gallery: Honda Civic Hybrid