Vehicle efficiency continues to improve as customers, and legislators, demand more fuel efficient vehicles and fewer vehicle emissions. Honda Motor Company has reached a new all-time high with an updated version of the Honda Fit Hybrid, set to be released in September.
Toyota Prius, and other hybrids in the Toyota and Lexus lineup, rightfully deserves to be called first in many respects to hybrid electric vehicle [HEV] technology. For example, Toyota Prius was the first HEV in the world to be mass-produced. Toyota recently claimed five million hybrid vehicle sales globally in April. With the expansion of the Prius family line, including the “Plug-In” [PHEV], “v” miniwagon, and “c” subcompact, Toyota looks to be set to defend their firsts. The second-generation Honda Fit Hybrid could put a kink in those plans, though.
The Toyota Prius c, under the JC08 Test Mode, rates at 35.4km/ℓ [83.2mpg], and also was ranked “Greenest Vehicle” by ACEEE. The first-generation Honda Fit Hybrid rates at 26.4km/ℓ [62.1mpg], which falls short of Prius c’s rating by about 33%, but with a few changes, the new version of the Honda Fit Hybrid makes a good match at 36.4km/ℓ [85.6mpg]. A little ingenuity can do a lot for an already-impressive HEV, like the Honda Fit Hybrid.
The second-generation Honda Fit Hybrid is still the same vehicle in size and shape but, with a few changes to the powertrain, bests the Toyota Prius c’s fuel economy by 3%. The new powertrain, pairing a 1.5ℓ Atkinson-cycle i4 and a high-output electric motor with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, reduces energy losses by directing power and recovery intelligently.
Honda Fit Hybrid’s Sport Hybrid Intelligent Dual Clutch locks up the engine and motor during hard acceleration to maximize power transfer to the wheels. Cruising at highway speeds, the system keeps the engine and motor locked to reduce power losses. On deceleration, the engine disengages, allowing the motor to maximize regenerative braking efficiency. At low- to medium-speeds, the engine is engaged or disengaged, depending on demand, favoring the motor to get around on electricity alone.
The second-generation Honda Fit Hybrid is to be released in September 2013, but pricing has yet to be announced. No word yet on if this vehicle will make it to the US, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Honda could really set itself apart in the US market by providing a direct competitor to the Toyota Prius c.