By on April 23, 2012

Remember Heather Peters, the attorney who is suing Honda? Well, if a recent article by’s Jacob Brown is any guide, her lawsuit might be the equivalent of Honda’s IMA hybrid system: unpopular, mostly ignored, and unable to operate without serious help from outside forces.

Brown reports:

The Friday hearing debated damages, the purportedly diminished resale value of Peters’ Civic, and the fuel economy numbers a car like hers could achieve. Peters has said that she is averaging 29 mpg in a car rated almost twice that. But it came up Peters wouldn’t let her local Honda dealership test her car for fuel economy because Honda said it didn’t want her to post footage of it on her site before the appeals court date.

In the hearing, Peters claimed the Honda’s battery in its Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system would not hold a charge, dropping her fuel economy well below its factory-rated 50 mpg. Technical expert Neil Schmidt countered in testimony that, according to records from her Honda dealership, Peters’ car had never had service problems and that her tires showed excessive wear on their outside shoulders, a sign of aggressive driving. Peters said she was not a lead-foot driver, but Honda attorney Roy Brisbois introduced the fact that her last four cars were two BMW Z3 roadsters, a BMW X5, and a Mazda RX-8—none of which are exactly vehicles for the unsporting driver.

Mr. Brown appears virtually alone among the automotive media in his willingness to genchi-genbutsu. Ironically, that’s a Honda catchphrase, meaning “go to the actual spot, see the actual situation”. We will keep you posted on his coverage as it appears.

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25 Comments on “Honda Hybrid Lawsuit May Not Be Able To Run On Battery Alone, So To Speak...”

  • avatar

    My house went down in value since 2007. Who can I sue?

  • avatar

    My wife got fat, who do I sue?

  • avatar

    I am trying to figure this part out: ” But it came up Peters wouldn’t let her local Honda dealership test her car for fuel economy because Honda said it didn’t want her to post footage of it on her site before the appeals court date.”

  • avatar

    Eh, I had a standard 2006 Civic LX. I drove it like I thought it was a BMW and averaged 29 mpg. I don’t care what kind of driver you are, if a hybrid can’t net you one extra MPG, its broken or something.

  • avatar

    Past performance is not indicative of future results. D’uh!

    Almost 2,000 owners are following her lead and joining class action suit.

    • 0 avatar

      But it’s backwards: her lead was NOT to join the class-action suit, and drag Honda into the small claims court instead. That was the innovation and her leadership. If 2000 people join a class-action suit, that’s 2000 people who reject her lead, not follow her lead.

  • avatar

    It’s not any worse than the Toyota lawsuits by the people who can’t step on the right pedal. In fact, we know without any lawsuits that Honda’s hybrids are not very good, as far as hybrids go. It’s just it takes an unsympathetic ambulance-chaser to actually go into the court.

    • 0 avatar

      How are Honda’s hybrids not any good?

      For Model Year 2010 to 2012, about 250 Insight owners are averaging (i.e. not just highway) 43 to 46mpg. And this is over millions of miles tracked, not just a one time max number as most owners like to quote.

      At the same time, 600 Prius owners are averaging 47 to 49mpg. And the Prius has EV mode too, which IMA does not. I’m not saying IMA is better, but it seems to compete well in real world mpg, and the Insight costs less than Prius too.

  • avatar

    First, the dealer’s interpretation of the tire issue is a bit of conjecture. I’ll speculate that tires where ridden under inflated, which will result in poor fuel mileage.

    Honda should agreed to allow an independent shop or arbitrator to test drive the car. If there is litigation, they should not be allowed to touch the car.

    I’m not going to take a side here, but there have been complaints on the Civic forums indicating owners are getting lower fuel mileage after a dealer reflash of the car’s computer.

    There could be good reason to reflash the computer’s software, like reducing the amount of time that the vehicle operates in the battery only mode to extend the life of the battery pack – but Honda isn’t telling.

    • 0 avatar

      Outside edge wear commonly indicates excessive toe in or aggressive driving/cornering.

      Underinflation causes edge wear to both the inner and outer edges of the tires.

    • 0 avatar

      There is actually another problem with a group of Civics that cause excessive toe-in and wear. Honda released a TSB but people have said that still didn’t fix it.

      Search Honda Civic forum for “Service Bulletin for Tire Wear.”

      I wonder if Honda has inadvertently exposed another problem with her car by pointing out this wear.

      • 0 avatar

        The only Service Bulletin for tire wear on ’06-up Civics is for excessive negative camber in the rear, which causes abnormal inside wear to the REAR tires. Has nothing to do with the front tires.

  • avatar

    One of my big pet peeves about drivers is their impatient habit of “creeping” forward at a red light. With Honda’s IMA, this bad habit totally defeats the “Idle Auto Stop” function of the system. My take is this is one reason many people don’t meet the expected MPG ratings.

    As mentioned in another story, this woman is supposedly re-activating her Bar-license so she can now represent other Civic Hybrid owners. Was this just a big publicity stunt to attract potential clients?

  • avatar

    One side of the story I’ve heard, but CANNOT confirm, relates to the battery. With the original factory setting, the battery would recharge fully, but in some cases, that caused the battery to fail within the 7 year warranty period. This could prove costly to Honda.

    During regular service, the dealer reflashed the car’s rom to use the battery less, thereby prolonging the life of the battery beyond the warranty period. This saved Honda from warranty service, but as a result, mileage suffered. And this reflash was done without informing the owner.

    If — and this is a big if — this is true, then Heather Peters’ case is legitimate.

  • avatar

    There is/was a Product Update Campaign to update the IMA Software to “prevent IMA battery deterioration”. It would/should not have been performed without the customer’s approval. It’s debateable whether this software update effects fuel econ.

    The last time I looked at the website, the average reported MPG for 06-up Civic Hybrids is within range of the window sticker. Some get better, some get worse, just like every other car on the road.

  • avatar

    Ms. Peters needs to try using 100% gas– no ethanol. I get almost 10% better mpg with it and better pickup.

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