By on August 18, 2008

Discharging batteries at dawn! (concept courtesy thetorquereport.com)We recently pitted the next gen Toyota Prius against the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt. The contest was theoretical, predicated on the arrival of the Volt in 2010 (and performing as advertised). Meanwhile, there’s no question about the reality (and viability) of Honda’s new hybrid sedan. It’s set to hit the showroom floor in April 2009, around the same time as the new Prius. While the Volt waits in the wings, the Toyota – Honda gas – electric rivalry will be an epic showdown.

Honda has stumbled around trying to find the right hybrid formula since 1999 when it introduced the gas – electric Insight. The ultra-light two-seater scored a record-breaking 70mpg on the [old] EPA highway test, but broke no sales records. The ensuing Accord hybrid was D.O.A. The follow-up Civic hybrid sells reasonably well, but it’s a wallflower compared to segment-buster Prius.

It looks like Honda’s finally found the right formula. Spy shots reveal a distinctly familiar shape: a combination of Prius flattery, Honda’s fuel-cell Clarity and the relentless pursuit of aerodynamics. Equally important, Richard Colliver, exec Veep of American Honda recently revealed that a base Honda hybrid will sticker at $18,500. If true, it will undercut its Toyota competitor by a healthy $3k.

Honda’s hybrid (“Hh”) is based on the Fit platform, stretched a few inches. Since the Fit already offers excellent space utilization, the Hh may give the Prius a run for the money in terms of interior volume. But what’s going on under the hood is more intriguing.

For now, Honda is stuck with its IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) “mild-hybrid” technology. The system essentially negates electric-only drive, except for 26 seconds every fifth Tuesday of the month. Further tweaks may increase that slightly, but forget about silently sneaking-up on unsuspecting blind pedestrians.

Honda’s trump card is rationalizing IMA production, bringing the hybrid premium of the system, batteries and all, down to about $1500 (as compared to a conventional drive-train). That makes the target $18.5k price look a bit less of a bargain, compared to a $14k Fit. What, a profitable hybrid right out of the starting gate (I’m looking at you, Volt)?

As usual, Honda achieves much with little. The technically-similar Civic hybrid’s 42mpg EPA combined rating is only eight percent less than the (current) Prius’ 46mpg. That wasn’t close enough to overcome the $22.6k Civic hybrid’s cloak of invisibility. But I’m guessing the lighter/more aerodynamic Fit-based hybrid will yield a (current) Prius-like 46 mpg EPA combined rating. Meanwhile, the new Prius will be deemed a flop if it’s combined rating doesn’t break the half-century mark.

Let’s put those numbers in perspective. Incremental efficiency gains at these sippy-cup levels become increasingly insignificant– unless gas prices really explode. At four-bucks a gallon, a 51mpg Prius saves $119/year (@14k miles). Even at six dollars, the annual fuel savings would be all of $180. It would take 25 (or 17) years to amortize the Prius’ higher price. You’d have to be a committed Peak-Oiler to justify the Prius’ premium on fuel savings.

So what will the latest Prius have going for it above the upstart Hh? It might still be a bit roomier, and have a smoother ride. But if four adults and their luggage can be comfortably accommodated in the Honda, that may be good enough for many hybrid intenders.

The Prius’ presumed higher EPA numbers might offer a smidgeon of green bragging rights, but the Honda’s shape has “hybrid” written all over it, so who cares? The Honda guarantees hyper-mileage and Green-creds, all at a lower price point.

What the Honda hybrid lacks is any viable upgrade/expansion into the plug-in future. Its IMA system is not socket friendly. Toyota will offer a Li-ion plug-in Prius to fleets in 2010, and to the public in 2011.

It would be a mistake to under-estimate the importance of plug-ability for the serious eco-road-warriors. For green halo seekers, nobody’s going to know whether your Prius is a plug-in or not, except for the port and attending badges. An aftermarket in fake plug-in ports (and badges) is as assured as the current market for fake Buick Lucerne portholes.

Is there a winner in this dual-mode duel? You bet: the consumer. Toyota’s plans to double Prius annual production to 480k, and Honda’s plans to sell 200k annually of its keenly-priced new entry, mean that street prices will be mean. Transaction prices of Priora historically have tracked gas prices. If the current pull-back in oil prices lasts into next year (my guess), expect to see the return of hybrid incentives, bigger than ever.

And then the real hybrid showdown begins, and history has a chance to repeat itself: GM’s latest Johnny-come-lately, technologically-ambitious, expensive/unprofitable, fully-fledged (one hopes) entry into the segment arrives (a.k.a. Volt). It will take on the well-established, low-cost, high-mileage competition from Japan– just like in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, aughts…

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58 Comments on “2010 Toyota Prius vs. 2010 Honda Hybrid...”


  • avatar
    Scottie

    Maybe the Volt ads should borrow from Top Gear

    “ambitious but rubbish”

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Toyota will have plug-ins @ 23k by 2011?

    Wow the Volt is screwed.

  • avatar
    MrGreenGear

    How about comparing the Prius to a REGULAR Honda Fit?

    They’ll still take it.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    While I find this editorial extremely interesting (I am looking forward to Honda giving Toyota a real run for its money), I’m left wondering how much you know, how much you’re estimating and how much is mere SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess)?

    Is that a pic of a stock Fit or is it the hybrid? In other words, will we see additional aero improvements in the hybrid? Will they move these improvements back to the conventional Fit? Do you know it’s another IMA? Does the $18.5K price allow for dollar fluctuation?

    Your larger messages (implications for the Volt and Prius sales) are well supported but I’m still left with a lot of questions about exactly how
    April, 2009, will shape up.

  • avatar
    a_d_y_a

    I wish automanufacturers in united states would stop using the misleading MPG. It is inversely related to the cost to the consumer and hence entirely misleading. The correct units have to be

    “fuel used/ distance.”

    So that would be gallons/100 miles or liter/100 km.

    So here is a table to explain.

    10 mpg == $40 every 100 miles (23.52 lit/100 km)
    20 mpg == $20 every 100 miles (11.76 lit/100 km)
    30 mpg == $13 every 100 miles (7.84 lit/100 km)
    40 mpg == $10 every 100 miles (5.88 lit/100 km)
    50 mpg == $8 every 100 miles (4.70 lit/100 km)

    I wish TTAC would take a stand on this

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    toxicroach: Toyota will have plug-ins @ 23k by 2011?

    No; the plug-in version will be more expensive, like about $5k more. Still less than a Volt, by a good margin.

    KixStart: I’m left wondering how much you know, how much you’re estimating and how much is mere SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess)?

    Honda has dribbled out info, there have been some quite good spy shots, and some is SWAG.

  • avatar

    Misleading headline. Wrong pic. Both swapped. Apologies to our readers and, of course, Mr. Niedermeyer, who is entirely blameless in these matters.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    I had heard the mpg on the Honda hybrid was supposed to be 60 mpg on autoblog or jalopnik. Probably hype.

    Anyway, anyone feel like explaining what is so expensive and hard about plug-in hybrids? In my ignorance, adding a battery charger just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Wonderful article in the September issue of “Wired” magazine on page 118.

    Humans didn’t leave the stone age because we ran out of stones.

    And now we may be leaveing the Burning Age (wood, coal, oil) before we run out of things to burn. Some estimates claim there is still 100 years of oil and 1000 years of coal available to burn but because of pollution, global warming, and (something even non tree huggers worry about) the movement of our money to people who don’t like us there is a very stong movement to stop burning oil.

    The “Wired” article tells how this may be done.

    What amazed me is how far this movement to stop burning things has already gone. In some countries even hybrids will be obsolete in 10 years.

    The future is going to be very exciting.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Has anything been released or leaked on what engine will be mated to the IMA. I kind of agree with KixStart it looks like a lot of guess work here, fun for a discussion but still a lot of pie in the sky until Honda releases some real info, and Honda is notoriously tight lipped.

    I really like the idea of a Fit with a hybrid and even better gas mileage. Making it a little bigger with more room for my family and better mileage and I might be inline to buy one of these(unless my family gets bigger in the next 18 months).

    My only fear is that it has that little 1.4 liter that’s in the Civic hybrid. That car was a dog in the mountains, great all around car except it died on steep inclines. Our ski trip from Denver to Vail in a friends Civic hybrid took 40 minutes longer because the car was so slow going uphill with 3 passengers and a trunk load of ski gear. There were times we could bare keep 55 mph when the juice from the battery ran out.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    a_d_y_a beat me to it, but he/she is right on the mark. Picking up a few MPG in a truck or SUV saves a lot more fuel than doing the same in a small car. It’s the technical basis for GM’s strategy of applying hybrid technology to large vehicles, starting with transit buses, where saving 1-1.5 MPG was a huge deal, then moving to the dual mode SUVs. Of course, you don’t save much fuel if you don’t sell many of those products….

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    toxicroach: I had heard the mpg on the Honda hybrid was supposed to be 60 mpg on autoblog or jalopnik. Probably hype.

    Yes, the manufacturers tend to leak inflated numbers (VW diesel Jetta; GM Cruze) as part of the advance hype. The Honda hybrid may well get 60mph, at moderate highway speed, but I use EPA combined numbers as my benchmark in all comparisons, actual and speculative.

    toxicroach: Anyway, anyone feel like explaining what is so expensive and hard about plug-in hybrids? In my ignorance, adding a battery charger just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

    For a plug-in to be effective, it has to have a much larger additional battery that is depleted during the EV/blended mode, and is then charged up via the plug. Currently, you can buy a plug-in conversion for the current Prius for about $10k. Li-ion batteries big enough are expensive, which is what the Volt is grappling with.

    RedBarchetta: Has anything been released or leaked on what engine will be mated to the IMA.

    Honda has announced a number of specifics, including that it will be using a revised, lightened version of the Civic’s 1.3 liter IMA powertrain. It may do a little better than the Civic, because the Hh will be lighter, and the electric assisit may be inctreased by some amount.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    RF: Misleading headline. Wrong pic.

    Thanks for the correction. The reason it is confusing, is that Honda has also announced that there will be a hybrid version of the Fit.

    The new Honda hybrid sedan discussed here has a different body exclusive to itself, with maximum (minimum?)aerodynamics.

    The Fit hybrid will probably use a smaller engine, perhaps the 1 liter from the old Insight, and will probably have less battery capacity.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Although it makes it hard to criticize the Prius as an image car, the reason the Civic doesn’t sell as well is, well, it’s not as good a car: Yes, it drives better, but it has a tiny, unexpandable trunk, a smaller passenger compartment, no stability control and (in Canada, at least) costs only slightly less.

    The trunk is the killer: one look at that ten-cubic-foot wonder is a deal-killer for most anyone. Here’s what doesn’t fit in a Civic:
    * Most strollers
    * A big grocery run
    * More than one suitcase
    * More than one set of golf clubs
    * Camping equipment above and beyond two sleeping bags
    * A dead body that hasn’t been dismembered.

    The Prius, however, can function more or less like a normal car because of the funky shape. Even the Camry and Altima are handicapped by comparison.

    A mild-hybrid Fit would probably sell well because, unlike the Civic, it would be useful for people who aren’t meter maids or bylaw inspectors. The rear floor could, if you eliminated the spare tire and raised the load floor height to bumper level, accommodate a battery pack and lose only an inch or two.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Interesting Paul.
    “Is there a winner in this dual-mode dual? You bet: the consumer. ”
    Almost exactly what passed through my mind before I read your article.

    The loser(s)-every company that is behind these two in the main stream car market, which is…well, everybody.

    Kudos to Toyota and Honda.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Gm is no where to be found in this. Who is going to spend twice as much on a Volt when you can have a tested and proven Prius or Fit?

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Who would’ve thought?

    While the muscle car war is starting to get hot (Mustang, Challenger, Camaro) at the other end of the spectrum, the hybrid car war is also heating up.

    I tell ya, the consumer wins on both fronts.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The trunk is the killer: one look at that ten-cubic-foot wonder is a deal-killer for most anyone.

    It is a handy hauler. Think practical box that gets good mileage and hauls what an SUV should. Most people are content with this type of vehicle on a daily basis

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Here are some good spy shots of the Honda hybrid:

    http://www.burlappcars.com/2008/08/2010-honda-insight.html

  • avatar

    “Is there a winner in this dual-mode dual? You bet: the consumer.”

    I believe you meant dual-mode duel.

    Also, this is a great article that does a good job of pitting 2 non-existent cars against each other. I’m excited to see what the Honda can do, and as we climb higher in terms of mpg we do see diminishing returns unless gas prices go crazy. That was GM’s reasoning for hybridizing SUVs and trucks first, they talked about 50% efficiency gains and so forth. the difference between a 45 mpg hybrid and a 50 mpg hybrid is similar to a 29 mpg vs. 30 mpg unassisted ICE – it’s basically a wash. I’m really pulling for the Volt, too; more competition means more innovation. If hybrids can continue their quiet, slow drive into the mainstream, we’re that much closer to breaking our ties with the Middle East.

  • avatar

    kazoomalo:

    I believe you meant dual-mode duel.

    My bad (again). Text amended.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    PN, Thanks for the spy shot link.

    I’ll bet there’s at least 8″ of fake nose on that car right now. Otherwise, it sure does resemble a Prius. In which case, I think we’re looking at extremely competitive highway fuel economy (real-world highway economy, at 65mph and faster). Maybe the Prius, with a more advanced drivetrain (?) would have an edge in town. And maybe Honda’s got more tricks than a circus pony.

    If gas prices don’t go surge well past $4/gallon, again, the increase in Prius production, combined with the Hh introduction, may eliminate the waiting lists and help keep prices moderate.

  • avatar
    hansbos

    I hate to be so shallow about it, but the inability of this IMA thing to move without the ICE running is a huge strike against it. Silently driving around in parking garages is one of those priceless Prius experiences (as is being able to camp in the back and see the stars through the rear window).

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The trunk is the killer: one look at that ten-cubic-foot wonder is a deal-killer for most anyone.
    It is a handy hauler. Think practical box that gets good mileage and hauls what an SUV should. Most people are content with this type of vehicle on a daily basis

    True, but the Prius already offers that. In opting for the Civic, you’re getting a car that weighs the same, is about as quick and costs very, very slightly less, but is a whole lot less practical and gets worse mileage.

    I could see that argument working for the Insight, but not the Civic.

  • avatar
    menno

    All my TTAC friends need to brace yourselves. OK you ready?

    I’m thinking of selling my 2008 Prius and buying a new 2009 Hyundai Sonata.

    You feeling okay? Not faint, are you?

    OK now as Paul Harvey might say, “now for the rest of the story”.

    The wife’s 2007 Sonata comes off lease at the end of May 2009. The new Prius and the new as-yet-unnamed Hh Prius-clone will be out on the market in April 2009. I can go see, sit in and look at both the new 2010 Prius and the new 2010 Honda thingymajig at the Detroit auto show in January and can plonk down money at both the local Toyota and the local Honda dealer for a new one for June delivery. Then I can take my choice in June. As things stand, all things being equal, I’d be inclined towards the Honda except I prefer the Toyota dealer, locally. Maybe not $3000 worth of preference, however.

    I’m ready to sell my 08 Prius for what I owe on it and believe it or not, I don’t see how I’ll have any trouble finding a buyer. Just turned 15,000 miles.

    I can cope without a hybrid for 8 months. In fact, even at $5 per gallon of gas, strictly speaking, the 09 Sonata will be cheaper to buy/own/run than my 08 Prius anyway (which I’ve always known – but those of you who know me, know that my intended purchase was for a V6 luxury car when I clamped my eyes on the new-gen Prius in 2004, and so I changed priorities, doubled my MPG for the same outlay and have been laughing at gas stations ever since).

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    If they can meet that $18.5k price point in a car with slightly more interior room than the already more than adequate Fit, I think Honda has a real winner. The only question will be how many Prius buyers will they be able to win away with a car that gets ~10% lower combined gas mileage? Anybody who actually runs the numbers and looks at the total cost of ownership would likely go with the Honda, unfortunately, for Honda, most people aren’t that diligent.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    At 18.5K it isn’t competing with the Prius, its competing with the Corrola.

    If, for $2K more, you get a nice 5-door hatch, with the oh-so-ego looks and 45+ MPG mileage, people will do it.

    Just the 5-door, low profile hatch alone is worth it, its the ultimate car design: You get the cargo room of a hatch, the ultra-pure aerodynamics missing in the Fit and Matrix, and the oh-so-trendoid egg-drop shape that says “My farts counter global warming”.

  • avatar
    Rday

    The prius has incredible space. I was going to order a camry hybrid but canceled after considering the small storage area. My prius carries a wheel chair, a walker, two folding lawn chairs, a small dog and 6 bags of groceries. And there is still room for some more. Try and do that with a camry, malibu, altima or accord? If the new prius is even larger, I may have to consider spending my hard earned money on one. My only complaint on the prius is I hit my head when entering/leaving the car. Just too big for the opening. Could lose weight, but can’t lose height.

  • avatar
    trlstanc

    I agree with a_d_y_a – It would be great if TTAC started including some sort of fuel/distance numbers in their reviews and editorials. It’s a much more meaningful number for comparing different cars, especially when we’re making SUV to Hybrid comparisons, or when the MPG figures start to get really high.

    You could just do a “The the Honda Fit gets 46 mpg (2.2 G/100M) which is twice as good” or something like that.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Prius will be alot bigger, 150 hp, and come in many shapes and sizes. Prius wins!!!

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I have to criticize Honda for coming out with a hybrid that won’t operate in electric only mode. Seems Honda is lagging.

  • avatar
    cleek

    I really admire the technology and appreciate the efficiency, but hybrids are expensive to produce and the components are not yet a commodity.

    I still question how a reasonable & true net profit can be made on hybrids without the blatant cost shifting smoothing effect of corporate cost accounting.

    How can the auto mfgs ultimately ring SUV like profits out of this technology?

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    The Prius synergy drive is a great technology for variable speed city traffic but isn’t likely to be as efficient as a conventional stick-shift for highway cruising. Let’s just hope Honda brings the hybrid with a proper Honda stick shift as well as (presumably) the continuously variable transmission they ship in the current hybrid Civic.

    For me (and I suspect quite a few others on this board), lack of a stick shift is a non-starter. I’d rather pay more and have something fun to drive.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    a friend of mine has a hybrid civic, it returns around 45 mpg, right on schedule. However, the rear seats dont fold down, so it cant carry much. Hopefully they will address that flaw.

  • avatar

    Paul,

    The EPA MPG statistic is less important than real life mileage. Real life mileage depends on your driving style, in particular the amount of hyper miling you are willing to engage in.
    So, assuming a fair amount of hypermiling, wouldn’t the Prius be far ahead of the Honda?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The Prius synergy drive is a great technology for variable speed city traffic but isn’t likely to be as efficient as a conventional stick-shift for highway cruising
    Not true. The Prius’ HSD is actually more efficient at just about any speed than a manual because:

    1. The CVT isn’t locked into a set of fixed ratios and can, far more quickly, choose an optimum ratio to charge the battery and/or move the car.

    2. The hybrid system is always providing assist, even on the highway. Take a look at one of the only cars that comes with a manual, automatic or hybrid powertrain: the Toyota Camry. At highway speed, the hybrid is still beating both the AT and MT-equipped four-cylinder Camry by a good 1.0L/100km or more, despite lugging around a good amount more mass.

    3. Most manual transmissions have a stupidly low final drive and/or lack a very tall overdrive gear. CVTs can usually run a very, very tall ratio at cruise.

    This is a long-standing hybrid myth even among enthusiasts: hybrid powertrains are always supplying power to the wheel as long as there’s charge in the battery to do so. The difference is more dramatic in the city because there’s more inefficiencies in city driving that the hybrid powertrain can compensate for, but the batteries are not dead weight on the highway. In fact, supplying assist while running is the only kind of help the current IMA Civic or BAS Malibu/Aura/Vue can offer.

    But yes, they’re still no fun to drive.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    psarhjinian : Why would anybody need stability control in a Prius or Civic Hybrid?

  • avatar
    M1EK

    Can we get a freakin’ ban on idiots who claim the Prius doesn’t do well on the highway? It gets better highway MPG than any production car in this country.

    In addition to the points made previously, you would not be able to sell a gas-only Prius with the engine it’s got. It would take nigh 30 seconds to get up to highway speed. The presence of the battery is what allows you to get away with such a small gas engine. Can you tattoo that on the inside of your eyelids, please?

  • avatar
    ghillie

    # SunnyvaleCA :
    August 18th, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    The Prius synergy drive is a great technology for variable speed city traffic but isn’t likely to be as efficient as a conventional stick-shift for highway cruising. Let’s just hope Honda brings the hybrid with a proper Honda stick shift as well as (presumably) the continuously variable transmission they ship in the current hybrid Civic.

    For me (and I suspect quite a few others on this board), lack of a stick shift is a non-starter. I’d rather pay more and have something fun to drive.

    Get a mt Honda Insight – more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Except you’ll be buying used.

  • avatar
    thoots

    So, what do you suppose the Prius-copy Honda will look like after the Honda ‘designers’ beat it with the corporate ugly stick? Do you suppose they could make the rear end of that thing look even worse than the TL?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Ej_San_Fran: The EPA MPG statistic is less important than real life mileage

    Except that “normal” driving in the Prius yields close to what the ePA numbers are. Hypermiling is interesting to…hypermilers (which I alternate with fast drivivng), but for the sake of my evaluations, I like the current EPA combined number; it tends to reflect (normal) reality quite well.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    why would anybody need stability control in a Prius or Civic Hybrid?
    Stability control isn’t just for overpowered rear-drive sportscars with bad balance.

    Granted, it’s most effective on, say, a all-season-equipped 911 in the snow, but it’s a good technology for any car. It’s a better safety technology than extra mass or multiple airbags:
    * It doesn’t weigh anything; it’s all software trickery
    * The best accident is the one you avoid. ESC can help with that.

    The Civic doesn’t offer ESC at all; the Prius does. Now, if only Toyota wasn’t gouging the hell out of Prius customers in Canada.

  • avatar
    menno

    I understand, Psarhjinian, that the 2009 Civic Hybrid is going to finally get ESC just in time to be totally put into the shadow by the as-yet-unnamed Honda Prius – whoops I mean Honda copy-of-Prius-without-silent-mode.

    I’m still considering one, mind you.

    Then again, if Honda would sell CNG Civics in my area, I’d really have to consider that.

    I’m wishing that Hyundai would get off the dime and sell a CNG HYBRID Elantra in the US. They are developing a gas-powered Elantra hybrid, for sale in South Korea by next year, it has a fairly firm on-sale date, too.

    Yeah, I have natural gas at my house despite living in a rural area (we specifically bought with the realization that propane is double the cost of natural gas, when heating a home – and living in northern Michigan, this is no small potatoes). In fact, our house is the last house on the natural gas pipe-line in our area.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I understand, Psarhjinian, that the 2009 Civic Hybrid is going to finally get ESC just in time to be totally put into the shadow by the as-yet-unnamed Honda Prius – whoops I mean Honda copy-of-Prius-without-silent-mode.

    I’m still considering one, mind you.
    If the car was cheaper, I’d consider it as well. Its a good in-city car if you can accept and work around the cargo limitations. Now that we’re not trucking a stroller around, that 10 cubic foot trunk isn’t the limitation it once was.

    But it’s still too expensive for what it is (about $27K Canadian, before taxes and F+PDI) for a car that doesn’t really offer much better mileage than a basic Civic. If it was a wagon, offered better mileage, had more features or was branded as an Acura, it might be an easier sell.

  • avatar
    KevinH

    To All:

    The Civic Hybrid is NOT a mild hybrid. It is a power assist hybrid. There are diffrences between the two and I beg you to learn about it.

    Do a search on Wikipedia under the topic “Hybrid_vehicle_drivetrain” to get started.

    psarhjinian:

    The second generation Civic Hybrid can run on electric power only. Yes, the camshaft is still spinning while in the cylinder de-activation mode but the car can be easily placed in EV powered operation as many Civic Hybrid owners know. You obviously don’t. The only BIG difference between it and the Prius is that it cannot start in EV when warmed up in S4.

    Since the HCH-2 introduction in Canada, the Prius has been much more expensive than the Civic Hybrid especially if you are forced to pick package B in order to get the basic set of air bags the Civic Hybrid has. The difference in my experience has been far more than $3,000 and often bordering on the 5K-7K mark. Only recently has Toyota lowered the base package to dip below the 30K mark.

    The Prius is NOT that much more fuel efficient than the Civic Hybrid as the GreenHybrid.com database easily confirms. On the city the Prius remains the undisputed champion but on the highway you would do well not to challenge an experienced HCH driver.

    Speaking of emissions and safety the Civic Hybrid has a few aces you are purposely ignoring and yes, VSA has been offered on the HCH-2 in most coiuntries except in the north American market. That will change for 2009 in NA.

    And please don’t get me started on all the other annoying things the Prius has. On their own they can make the limited trunk of the HCH look trivial to some people. Besides, the Camry hybrid has exactly the same trunk space as the HCH and the Camry Hybrid is a much larger car. The altima hybrid trunk is even smaller than both.
    In a pinch, the Civic hybrid can carry very hefty and large items in its rear flat floor. Sure you lose rear passenger space in doing so but so does the Prius when I go for a home depot run and I fold its rear seats.

  • avatar

    My inlaws took delivery of their new Honda Civic Hybrid two weeks ago. Through two tanks of gas, they are averaging 52mpg, commuting into Boston (Back Bay) on a daily basis. Their drive is mostly highway, with heavy volume on the roads when they are on them (5am and 4pm), and experience only some stop-and-go.

  • avatar

    It will be pretty neat to see these all come out and compete.. and I hope to still be running my 1999 Manual Insight (120k, 63 mpg on my second battery paid for by Honda) .. past most gas stations and to the bank.

    While the Honda IMA does not allow you to “run silent, run deep” like the Toyota Hybrids, it has fewer parts that can break, weighs less, has less transmission losses, and still helps where it really counts, accelerating up to cruise speed where the low drag coefficient is matched to the internal combustion engine.

  • avatar
    T2

    …. let me set you straight about Honda :

    There seems to be only one guy over there calling the shots and he’s clueless. I’m not going to go after the shortcomings of the IMA system here. That is not to say that I’m overjoyed with the complexity of the Toyota Hybrid Synergy drive either but the IMA to me is spectacularly underwhelming. And I don’t give credit for the 4000 sales/month of the Civic Hybrid. A lot of those are either uninformed or would-be Prius buyers who couldn’t wait any longer. The fact is the IMA failed at both ends of the market, with the Accord and Insight, and replacing the single 10kw motor with a single 30kw as they intend is not going to improve things a whole lot.

    For this new Honda Hybrid, I wonder how the term “dedicated hybrid ” identifies the new system to the previous IMA system ? I don’t think it does. There is no difference. They simply want to drop the Honda Civic Hybrid variant so that the chassis for the hybrid and gasoline powertrains can go their separate ways for what they might need to do later. The fact remains that whatever they do, a single motor assist doesn’t compare with the advantage of decoupling the engine from the wheels as the VOLT and Prius systems are able to do with their two powerful electrical machines. When the Volt takes to the road in 2010 Honda better have something like it or play second fiddle to Toyota and GM.

    In the matter of the CVT. Electrical CVTs with two motors (PRIUS HSD) are vastly superior in their range and durability. Mechanical devices have inferior wear characteristics that electrical devices do not. They also need clutches and reversing gear that electrical CVTs do not.

    Mechanical CVTs have been declared unsuitable for new designs in industry for more than thirty years because of control and maintenance issues. Like manual and automatic transmissions they are very much last century technology. I would be surprised if many Civic Hybrids reach 100k miles without a CVT problem.

    Actually it wouldn’t take much engineering to make the Insight powertrain into a series hybrid using existing technology. They need to install an induction motor transaxle. The CVT needs dismantling from the 3-cyl engine block and the generator needs rewiring for 7000rpm rather than its present 900rpm.
    An electronic inverter will give the punch that the CVT failed to and there will be plenty of power to haul a 4-dr sedan and thereby attract attention particularly from the 20,000 buyers who were looking at the Prius.

    The simple fact is that a 1.3L 4-cyl in the Hybrid Civic can only do so much in fuel economy. It is the smaller engines in the sub one liter class that will get the high mileage that people want. To make them drivable they have to have the flexibility that only an electric transmission can give. Otherwise Honda may as well release the Civic Hybrid’s 1.3L engine in a non hybrid and at least save us the hybrid premium.

    Toyota is also going off in the wrong direction just a bit if they intend to go with the – new for 2007 – “R” engine. The 1ZR-FE 1.6L which will probably give 94Hp in Atkinson trim as the 1ZR-FXE. I don’t see how double VVt-i, with camming authority now extended to the exhaust valving, is going to improve mpg compared to the original 1.5L. For a start there will be more friction in those 80.5mm bores than the 75mm bores of the previous engine. Again, Toyota is still putting an automobile engine into what is strictly a genset application just like GM. We have yet to see optimised arrangements for this function.

    So strangely, we will have only two serious competitors in the form of the GM VOLT and the Toyota Prius that are pushing the technology barrier. It will be interesting to see if GM cannot afford to risk at least a 1.3Kwhr Li-ion battery installation to price this vehicle into Prius territory. I don’t feel early adopters for the Volt in the PHEV style will be many. And aren’t those converted Prius still “parked” ?

    There is also the possibility of another team within GM fielding a batteryfree Volt as Lutz has mentioned. Imagine a highspeed genset to produce 140Hp with a fraction of the weight of a Tesla powerpack and cost I might add. Most of the advantages of hybridisation without the bulk and cost of a $16,000 battery.
    T2

  • avatar
    KevinH

    T2:

    The HSD system complex? In what way? If anything it is a model of simplicity and elegant engineering… starting with the PSD.

    The IMA system is “spectacularly underwhelming”? Come on! The hybrid topology of both cars although different is virtual matched by the same architectural components and the only big difference is the # of MGsets, PSD vs CVT and battery density (even the pack’s manufacturer is the same) and of course the governing software (HSD vs IMA). That is it!

    Is it any wonder both cars score so close in real world combined mileage despite the IMA’s handicap in urban driving versus the HSD full hybrid powerhouse?

    You clearly never driven the Civic Hybrid to know that the 1.3L is already too small for the task, especially without electric assist.

    Honda CVT’s not going past 100K without issues? Your info is seriously lacking and outdated. The gen 1 HCH had SOME issues and those are well known. The gen 2 HCH’s are base lining quite well and many are already exceeding the 100K mark without any issues. And for your information all upcoming Honda hybrids will be CVT equipped as proof that they are now very reliable and dependable.

    The Volt? It is still wishware and let us hope that IF it EVER gets released that it can at least match the production numbers of the Civic Hybrid 2 in its first year run (38K units in 2006).

    Until that happens, only Honda and Toyota will remain planted in the hybrid playing field as they have been for the last 9 years.

  • avatar

    Check this out:

  • avatar
    T2

    – KevinH wrote :
    The HSD system complex? In what way? If anything it is a model of simplicity and elegant engineering… starting with the PSD.

    Someone else put it better than I when they wrote
    ” The enigma that is the Prius is in the complexity of its simplicity ”

    the only big difference is the # of MGsets

    KevinH, that is a fundamental difference not a just “big difference”. Almost the difference between gunpowder and dynamite I would say.

    Finally the Gen II Civic only been out less than three years, let’s see where they are in another three. In balance I might say that even the majority of Prius are yet to exceed three years old so battery aging due to the Calendar effect is still unknown although aging through cycling has proved negligible. Then, even with a seriously degraded battery the Prius will still yield most of the benefits of hybridisation whereas the Honda almost none. The Honda will, however, always have the advantage of that 1.3L engine over the 1.5L of the Prius.

    I hope I haven’t come off here sounding too smug but I am going to leave it at that.
    T2

  • avatar
    DetroitIronUAW

    You spreadsheet monkies crack me up. If you are truely concerned with what makes the most financial sense how can you conclude that you need to buy a new car? A 10 year old car that gets decent gas mileage should win hands down every time. Or for that matter how do you omit public transit.

    Obviously there are other factors affecting your car buying than financial reasons. Even though you contend that it’s what makes the most financial sense.

  • avatar
    T2

    -DetroitIronUAW
    Obviously there are other factors affecting your car buying than financial reasons

    Yes, and it’s called ‘freedom of choice’ what this country was founded upon.

    You are right. No-one asks for payback on a NAV unit, or A/C, or a moonroof, or mag wheels.

    But ask for the hybrid option and a lot of people come shooting out fom under rocks and start to admonish. “you’ll never get your money back on that” as if we now have to defend our choice.

    Keeping your car for a long time is a good idea – makes a lot of sense. My Toyota Corolla went nearly 14 yrs before repairs started to escalate. Since many fixed costs don’t change with age why lavish them on rusty iron. A new muffler system costs the same whether the car is 4yrs or 14yrs old. Licensing the same also.

    The same quandry exists with television. Do I watch a pay movie on a downconverted HD signal to a 20yr old 19″ crt or do I get a 52″ widescreen and see all the signal I am paying for.

    A lot of us, while are not particularly attracted by V6 turbo’s, think the idea of a high mileage vehicle with low emissions has both personal and societal paybacks to make it worth pursuing. Toyota and Honda decided to build a 21st century vehicle but there are still many people who want to live in the 20th century with an automatic or manual clutched stepped ratio transmission along with an engine which needs two sets of cylinder heads. And that is freedom of choice.

    T2

  • avatar
    KevinH

    T2:

    “KevinH, that is a fundamental difference not a just “big difference”. Almost the difference between gunpowder and dynamite I would say.”

    That may be so from a “platform potential” perspective but the real-world fuel economy performance does not make the lack of an MGSet that dramatic. In fact, I have yet to see even 1% of the 2004 or 2005 Prius fitted with a PHEV pack. So what is all this extra potential buying me and the other 1.2 million Prii owners?

    Stated differently, how much fe benefit should an extra MGSet offer? 2 MPG? 4, 6, 10 or more?

    As shown in several mileage databases, the Prius II is only edging the gen 2 HCH by less than 2 MPG’s in combined driving. Heck I would expect the Prius to basically cream the HCH in fe.
    That is why I doubt many people will consider those technology differences as significant… At least enough to parallel your “gun powder and dynamite” analogy.

    Now on the Prius we have way more KW/h to the MGSets, an excellent Atkinson ICE, a less lossy PSD instead of a crappy CVT and a deeper pack to do some real EV… and with all this I would expect us to do far better. Then why don’t we?

    In my view, the IMA is different and more minimalistic when compared to HSD but it holds its own quite well and if Honda can bring the prices down even further then I am willing to upgrade my Prius at a later moon to whatever gives me the best eco+$ edge.

  • avatar
    T2

    -KevinH
    Direct comparison of these two cars is not entirely fair. Let me unwind your post a bit.
    The Prius is rated as a Mid size hatch while the HCH is considered a compact sedan.
    Normally the Prius would be compared to the non-Hybrid Camry with the 2.4L engine with which it compares favorably in performance and that is the bottom line here.

    The Honda Civic Hybrid engine is not run of the mill either. It also runs the Atkinson cycle and is fitted with two igniters (spark plugs) per cylinder. This obviously accomplishes the setting up of two ignition wavefronts simultaneously and also averages the latency of the ignition timing for improved combustion. The latency between the spark plug firing and the onset of chemical ignition has a bell curve defined statistically variable delay which Honda designers felt important enough to curtail. The cylinder bores were given a low friction cylinder wall treatment also.

    The 1.3L capacity of this engine also helps the fe against the Toyota’s 1.5L. We could almost be asking why the HCH doesn’t do much better than it does, being as it happens to be a smaller vehicle as well.

    Stated differently, how much fe benefit should an extra MGSet offer? 2 MPG? 4, 6, 10 or more?
    Not a lot if Toyota and GM are still putting an automobile engine into what is strictly a genset application. We have yet to see optimised arrangements for this function.
    When 2 cylinder engines are direct driving 9000rpm generators in full series hybrids I think we will start seeing 80mpg vehicles but 1.4-1.6L engines can only do so much however sophisticated the rest of the powertrain may be.

    On the hiway the Prius “platform potential” should be high because of the ability to suppress engine rpms. Using the two servos to force the engine into a high torque low rpm mode at all times, engine friction should go down substantially. That is the underlying theory. The problem with that is – it comes with higher losses than anyone cares to admit. Let’s run thru it (yeah our eyes are not glazed yet)

    A high torque scenario will see 6.6Hp/10mph coming off the PSD ring gear. All extra power not needed to propel the vehicle is converted to electric power by MG2 and fed back to MG1. We can forget the NiMH battery if fully charged. It doesn’t enter the situation while cruising.

    From this when the vehicle is cruising at 50mph, say, a total of 33Hp should be transmitted by the PSD from its ring with some returned by MG2 electrically back to MG1, and then on to the sun gear of the PSD. MG1 needs to become a motor to direct drive the sun gear. This is the exact opposite from acceleration and hill climbing where MG1 behaves as a generator extracting power from that sun gear and feeding it to MG2.

    Continuing with the 50mph cruise : –
    If the road wheels need 8Hp then 33-8 or 25 Hp has to circulate the system. The engine has to supply the 8Hp plus the losses of the PSD plus the combined losses of generating and motoring 25Hp. If the electrical machines achieve 95% each and the PSD 90%, then 20% loss or 5Hp is incurred. There is also the 12.5% loss of the three stage transaxle reducer carrying the 8HP to the wheels as well to factor in.

    Incidentally you will find :
    … very interesting read. They’ve got other Prius reports there too.
    Courtesy of Hobbit at Yahoo Prius_Technical_Stuff #12022

    The total loss to enable 7 Hp to reach the wheels is therefore 6 Hp or an efficiency of 50%.
    Perhaps the torque loading on the engine could be reduced but that would cause engine speed to rise and increase its frictional losses.

    The HSD exists to off load the inverter with parallel mechanical feed to the wheels during acceleration but there is no free lunch and as we see the cruising efficiency takes a hit.
    T2

  • avatar
    DetroitIronUAW

    Why is evrything compared to the prius? By all acounts the Volt will outperform hands down. The trend with the prius is all based on the new “green” hype.

  • avatar
    KevinH

    Well, for the time being the Volt is as good as vaporware until it enters the market and prove its worth (at least in terms of sales numbers and reliability).

    Until that happens, the Prius will remain the standard by which all alternative fuel platforms are measured, and the overdue and shameful lateness of the Volt does nothing to make it unique or trend-setting when compared to the Prius or any other high FE hybrid for that matter.

    But, I hope GM finally picks up a success in the Volt for a change. If they don’t… then, not to worry.
    We have Toyota and Honda that will continue to show what leadership and forward thinking looks like.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    DetroitIronUAW,

    GM’s plans are for a handful of Volts in 2010, 10K in all of 2011 and then just 60K per year through 2014 or so. That’s less than a third of Toyota’s current Prius sales in the US and Toyota’s ramping up in 2009 (about double the production).

    It just isn’t a competitive force in the marketplace until it gets some real quantity going.

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