Why Honda Is Using Lithium Batteries in Civic Hybrid

When Honda recently unveiled its 2012 Civic design, and announced that the new Civic Hybrid would use lithium ion batteries for the first time, we weren’t surprised. Last March, we reported that the Civic and other Honda hybrids were already in the process of migrating from nickel to lithium. What does it mean for consumers? In theory, more MPG at a lower cost. The change will be incremental, but exactly how much more mileage and at what price is yet to be determined.

The shift is part of Honda’s strategy to make its conventional gas-electric hybrids nearly as affordable as gas-only cars—a goal the company has been talking about for a couple of years.

In addition, announcements from Honda at the Los Angeles Show that it would pursue a robust plug-in hybrid architecture for future cars—and introduce an all-electric version of the Honda Fit—pushes the company in the direction of lithium, and away from the nickel metal hydride batteries that have powered hybrids since their introduction. Blue Energy Co Ltd, a joint venture of Honda and GS YUASA CORP, will provide Honda’s lithium battery.

Nailing down its hybrid battery strategy is vital for Honda. Last month, Honda President Takanobu Ito says around 10 percent of Honda’s global sales will be hybrids by 2015, and all of its models are built with the ability to quickly adapt into hybrids.

Power and Weight

While similarly sized lithium ion batteries may cost 30 percent more than the current nickel metal hydride batteries, carmakers can use lithium batteries to reduce battery costs by building smaller packs. At the same time, we would expect Honda to try to squeeze out a few more miles to the gallon with the Civic Hybrid, which already boasts 40/43, ranked in second place behind the Prius as the most fuel-efficient conventional hybrid.

2012 Civic concept

2012 Civic concept.

Lithium batteries mean less weight and more effective regenerative braking. Hyundai points to the use of lithium batteries for the Sonata Hybrid, hitting showrooms later this month, as the reason it could beat the Ford Fusion Hybrid on weight reduction.

“With the new high-power lithium ion batteries, they can cut them down to their actual energy requirements and still get all the power they need,” said John German, who worked as an environmental engineer for Honda for 11 years and is now a senior fellow for the International Council for Clean Transportation, in an interview with HybridCars.com.

Looking Forward

There’s another important reason that the Civic Hybrid is going lithium—so the next generation of Civic Hybrid owners don’t go postal.

The Civic Hybrid is the only hybrid model for which we’ve seen numerous customer complaints about critical battery failures. Civic Hybrid owners have reported loss of power or outright pack failures, and have not been satisfied with the company’s fixes. The fact that the Civic Hybrid is the only hybrid model—from Honda or any other hybrid car producer—with a chronic battery issue suggests an issue with the supplier or the system design. The shift to lithium hopefully will put the issue in the rear view mirror.

These complaints, and the introduction of the new Honda Insight and CR-Z hybrid coupe—other small Honda hybrids that potentially compete for sales—help explain why Honda Civic Hybrid sales dropped by 50 percent between 2009 and 2010.

The Civic’s low sales are another reason that it’s a good candidate for the switch to lithium. “The Civic Hybrid is not a large seller,” said German. “So it makes sense for Honda to convert this vehicle first to lithium ion and gain some real world experience with it before moving to lithium ion for the Insight, CR-Z, and other hybrids.”

The entire hybrid market is moving to lithium, save the biggest producer of hybrids: Toyota. The company, at least for the time being, is holding firm to nickel metal hydride for its conventional no-plug hybrids. For example, the preliminary specs for the new Prius V hybrid wagon call for a nickel metal hydride battery pack. Yet, as Popular Science’s Seth Fletcher points out: “Any time we hear Toyota bemoan the state of lithium-ion technology, it’s important to remember that Toyota has in fact built an extensive supply chain for lithium-ion batteries over the past few years.”

“All manufacturers will move to lithium ion for hybrids,” said German. “It’s just a matter of time.” He believes the transition will happen with low-volume models first, and the changeover from nickel to lithium will be complete by 2016 and 2018.


  • John K.

    Q1: Will Honda offer a Civic Coupe Hybrid?

    Q2: Will Honda offer a Civic GX (CGN) Hybrid?

    Q3: Will Honda offer my dream car, a Civic Coupe GX Hybrid???

    CGN hybrids are the way to get the greatest number of Americans off of foreign oil at an affordable price RIGHT NOW! Not only that, they would be the least polluting affordable light passenger vehicles around.

  • Eric

    Hopefully LiIon means more trunk space. That’s my major beef with most hybrids. Looking forward to finding out mpg and msrp.

  • Anonymous

    no doubt this is good for competition, but honda needs to step up its support for existing hybrid vehicles to boost people’s confidence in it’s future hybrids

  • Charles

    I agree with Anonymous that Honda really needs to step up its game. Ford is breathing down Honda’s neck (36,151 vs 38,796 for last year) in number of hybrid sales. In terms of dollars I assume Ford topped Honda by a good bit.

    Ford has said that the C-Max Hybrid will beat the current Fusion’s MPG rating. If it does so by two, that would make the C-Max as efficient as any current Honda. With Ford having a better reputation among hybrid owners, and having a car that is more practical than anything Honda sells in the US, I see Honda really being pressed by both Toyota and Ford. With the Hyundai hybrids coming, Honda could be squeezed down to tier three status.

    The high fuel efficiency market is getting very complex. Toyota, Ford and Hyundai (at least by reports) have the best hybrid systems. Nissan has the high profile Leaf electric car with Ford on their heels with the Focus EV. GM has the high profile Volt plug in hybrid, with Ford and Toyota coming after them. VW seems to have the Diesel market to themselves. Where does that leave Honda in terms of high efficiency technology? IMA has got to go or be improved to the point that it can compete with the Toyota and Ford hybrid systems. Where dose the market have room for new and current Honda hybrids? The mid-size sedan market is about saturated and Honda already failed with their first Accord Hybrid. The Prius rules the mid-size hatchback market. To beat the Prius you have to have better MPG ratings. Honda has proved that they cannot do that without really big improvements to their technology. The compact hybrid market has only the Civic, but wih the cost being almost the same as the larger Prius, the Civic just gets killed. The new Prius C should seal off the bottom end of the hybrid market. The Prius V and Ford C-Max should take care of the next logical step up in size. The SUV market has the Highlander and Escape. Both sell OK, and I do not believe leave any room for CR-V or larger hybrid from Honda without a huge improvement in MPG rating. I also do not think there is a large market for large hybrid trucks and SUVs. The CR-Z fills a small market, that I do not believe will grow. Honda got their early sales, but I think this year will be the best year for the CR-Z, with following years seeing declining sales. That seems to leave Honda with one small opening. If Honda can come out with a really good Odyssey Hybrid, in the 25/32 MPG range I think they have a chance.

  • Anonymous

    ‘ Is Volt the best car, really?

    At $41,000, the Volt is going to appeal to a splinter of a small segment of early-adopter greenies. And since GM’s claim that the Volt is a true electric car has been disproved, it basically should be judged as a Prius that costs twice as much. [...]

    My suspicions go back to a comment I heard from a COTY juror a few years ago, when the Saturn Aura defeated the Honda Fit and Toyota Camry for top honors. I asked the juror — based in Detroit, of course — whether he thought the Aura really was the better car.

    His response, “No, but it’s the best car GM has ever made. It’s almost as good as the Camry.” ‘ (http://www.autonews.com/article/20110110/BLOG06/110119988#ixzz1BmppnFXO)

  • Anonymous

    “Ford is breathing down Honda’s neck ….”
    “The SUV market has the Highlander and Escape. Both sell OK ….”

    AutoblogGreen: Obama Administration buys a quarter of all hybrids sold by Ford, GM
    (http://green.autoblog.com/2010/11/24/obama-administration-buys-a-quarter-of-all-hybrids-sold-by-ford/)

  • Pierre

    Too bad the Ford C-Max hybrid is only available as a 5-seater, same as Prius V. Interesting to see what are the prices and which sells better.
    Apparently there’s a gap for a small hybrid MPV style vehicle.

  • Anonymous

    @Charles,

    Be careful not have to eat your own words when Civic hybrid debuts. Honda is aiming for Prius’s EPA mileage.

  • Charles

    I would be happy to eat my words about the Civic hybrid. If Honda does hit Prius’s EPA MPG rating, it will mean that Honda produced a top performing hybrid system. That would be good for the world. I am not anti-Honda, I just think the IMA hybrid system in its current form is inferior to the Toyota and Ford hybrid systems.

    If the Civic just matches the Prius, it will need to cost a few thousand less to really make a dent in the Prius’ sales.

    BTW Anonymous the numbers do not work out to 25% of Ford hybrids being bought by the GSA. According to the article the GSA bought 14,584 hybrids over the last two years. However using numbers from the article and the December Dashboard, Ford sold 70,651 hybrids over the last two years. If all of the hybrids were Fords, that would only be around 20%. The real number is around (14,584 – 17 (Prius) – 5 (Civic) – 3950 (Malibu) / 70,561 or 15% of Ford’s hybrids. A nice boost to Ford, but around 1 in 7 not 1 in 4.

  • Anonymous

    According to Bloomberg: (link @ AutoblogGreen)

    - The government purchased about 64 percent of GM’s Chevy Malibu hybrid models and 29 percent of all Ford Fusion hybrids manufactured since Obama took office in 2009, the data show,
    - [t]he government paid an average of $5,281 less for its hybrid vehicles than sticker prices at a dealership, according to a comparison of the GSA purchase data with prices collected by Edmunds.com, a consumer information website.

    29% of all Ford Fusion hybrids went to government auto fleet! Wow, even higher than the one quarter ‘average’. That’s as high as what Chrysler dumped its minivan to daily rental fleet last year!

  • Anonymous

    @Charles,

    “If the Civic just matches the Prius, it will need to cost a few thousand less to really make a dent in the Prius’ sales.”

    How can one make such a prediction, even before the specs. is released, reviews and test drives are published? (Better yet, go to showroom and take a look yourself when it is released.) It seems there is more prejudice than rationing behind your thinking.

  • Anonymous

    Is this Civic Hybrid based on IMA (Partial Hybrid) or Full Hybrid. That important point is missed out. Its not mentioned in Hondas website either.

    Hello Anonymous
    The cash for clunkers program launched in Japan is only for Japanese automobiles and all foreign vehicles were shut out.

    Government will purchase only the local brands and not the foreign.
    BTW, Fusion Hybrid has beaten the Camry Hybrid in both mileage and sales. Its the current champ among mid size Sedans.

  • Anonymous

    C-Max is actually a 5 + 2 vehicle. That means either you can use it as a 5 seater with lot of cargo space or as a 7 seater with little cargo space.

    In short, its a very functional vehicle and can do the job of mini-van in most cases, certainly this will be better than Prius v.

  • Anonymous

    @anonymous 2,

    - I think you have to look around the various news items reported on this site. I read, from a Ford press release that i) the C-Max hybrid is a 5-seater; ii) the C-Max electric vehicle is also a 5-seater. I sure hope Ford did not lie on such an important announcement. Sigh…..

    @anonymous 1, I believe the reports from Autoblog Green and Bloomberg are about Government’s fleet purchases, not the ‘Cash for clunkers’ program (therefore, please, no need to mention the Japanese ‘cash for clunkers’ program), don’t get confused.

    BTW, do you know where Ford Fusion hybrids is made? I don’t think it’s made IN the U.S.A.

    Furthermore, if you click to the Bloomberg’s report (via Autoblog Green), you’ll find, in the same report, that the U.S. government “bought ONLY 17 Prius models and five of Honda’s Civic hybrids in the past two years.”
    (with emph. added)

    Sigh…. Sigh…… Sigh……

  • gene

    I have a 2007 civic hybrid. Does or will Honda or anyone offer a lithium battery solution or conversion for us “Honda Victims”?

    Sincerely,
    Gene

  • Anonymous

    @anonymous
    “The cash for clunkers program launched in Japan is only for Japanese automobiles and all foreign vehicles were shut out.”

    Can you provide a source? I have not read any news report saying foreign brands were ‘shut out’.

  • Charles

    Rational thinking:
    Point 1, the Prius is the leading selling hybrid, selling about as much as all other hybrids combined. Knocking off the champ is not that easy.
    Point 2, Honda has the only hybrids with significant battery quality questions. Another hurdle for Honda to overcome.
    Point 3, Honda touted the new Insight as a Prius killer. It is far from that. The Insight sells at about 15% of the Prius voulme in the US. It is smaller, has lower MPG ratings and is not even recommended by Consumer Reports.
    Point 4, Honda sold the CR-Z as a fun to drive hybrid. Consumer Reports would disagree.
    Point 5, Honda has not delivered on their recent promises for hybrids (Insight and CR-Z). While past performance is no guarantee of future performance, it is all we have to go by.

    If the new Civic is a great car, I will be happy to say so. With the current information I would not expect great things, without a lot of changes at Honda’s hybrid technology department. I hope Honda can make those changes and put out a very good hybrid.

    The numbers in the Bloomberg report do not add up. What more can I say. If you look at the raw numbers in the report and the sales data from this site for the last two years, you cannot come to the conclusion that 25-29% of Ford Fusion Hybrids were sold to the feds. I would bet you could find a few months were that was true, but not for the full two year time frame.

    To the person looking for information about Japan’s Cash for Clunkers program:
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2009/12/us-cars-excluded-from-japans-cash-for-clunkers-program-/1
    The short answer is the only cars made in Japan were included.

  • Anonymous

    @Charles,

    1) Charles said: “If the Civic just matches the Prius, it will need to cost a few thousand less to really make a dent in the Prius’ sales.”
    Charles said: “the Prius is the leading selling hybrid, selling about as much as all other hybrids combined. Knocking off the champ is not that easy.”

    I think there is quite a bit difference between the two. The first time you clearly was not referring to ‘[k]nocking off the champ’. It seems you’re embarrassed and trying to shift your statement.

    2) So much ‘based’ on your impression of various current hybrids from Honda, looks more prejudice than rational thinking. So you must be one of those who think because GM/Ford built craps in the past, they will never going to turn around and succeed.

    3) I doubt you’ve read the report from Bloomberg. Please go ahead and read it (it is free!) before I post my reply.

  • Charles

    Anonymous,

    If you look at my replies it is obvious that I at least looked at the summary at green.autoblog. Where do you think I came up with the 14,584 – 17 (Prius) – 5 (Civic) numbers?

    I do not think the Civic can be a sales success unless it is thousands cheaper than the Prius. I think that is true for any car smaller than the Prius with lower or equal MPG ratings. I will go one farther, I do not think any car the same size, with the same MPG ratings as a Prius will be a sales success unless it is much cheaper than the Prius. The Prius has the hybrid buyers well earned mind share. Honda’s hybrid troubles have put it behind Ford and Toyota in hybrid mind share. Those are just my thoughts, but a lot of people would agree with me. In this sales game mind share beats reality.

    Ford and GM did build crap for a long time. Ford now builds some top quality cars. Ford had mind share problems, and it took a while for the public to catch up to reality (I for one do not think that the public has fully realized that Ford’s are now top quality cars). If Honda starts building high quality high MPG hybrids, it will take a while for the perception to catch up to reality. Perception/mind share always lag reality.

    I have a good track record in predicting the sales of hybrid cars. Last year I predicted the Prius would sell 151,841 and Toyota sold 140,928, Fusion and the Milan 21,515 and Ford sold 22,232 and Insight would sell 21,994 and Honda did sell 20,962. I was not as close on the Civic Hybrid at 10,992 predicted and only 7,336 sold.

    As I and others have said before, Honda needs to scrap or significantly improve its IMA hybrid system for it to compete in the hybrid market with Toyota and Ford. With it low cost high value business model everybody needs to be looking out for Hyundai.

    As an aside my next car will probably be a Ford C-Max or Prius V. At this point I am leaning towards the C-Max plug in. Data can change my mind about who builds quality and who builds crap, but like most people it takes a while.

  • Anonymous

    @Charles,

    1. Can’t you read what I wrote? Sigh…. I thought I wrote: “the report from Bloomberg. Please go ahead and read it (it is free!) before I post my reply.” Sigh…..

    I am still amazed why so many on the net don’t go straight to the source (whenever possible). I have and I know what’s the difference between what’s in AutoBlog Green and Bloomberg.
    Blogs are blogs, their quality and accuracy all depends on the author. And there’re many writers in Autoblog/Autoblog Green. Their readers, it seems, many are those who spent too much time surfing the net.
    Bloomberg is a business info provider. If it made a mistake, it’ll have to make corrections, like Reuters/AP/major national newspaper. (If you’ve found that Bloomberg made a mistake, I encourage you to show us and to tell them and ask for a correction. I am sure they will respond as soon as possible. But, please make sure you read *carefully* the report from Bloomberg before you proceed in a haste.)

    2. Compared with Prius, every other hybrids, no matter it is Fusion hybrid (only #3in total hybrid sales of 2010), or Civic or Insight(#2 in total hybrid sales), they all become dwarfs. It seems it doesn’t matter if it’s larger, Fusiion hybrid (7 cu.ft. more in passenger room) or smaller like Insight.
    It seems youare just continually evolving your argument: first you talked about making a dent on Prius’ sales, then you talked about knock off the champ, then you seemed to say just because Prius sold over 140k last year, then everyone including Fusion hybrid, Escape hybrid, Lexus RX450h are ‘huge’ failures.
    Well, if that is your opinion, fine.

    3. This is the first full year sales of Fusion hybrid, and how many did it sell? Less than 21k. Unlike you, I don’t make ‘predictions’, but I’ll say this: if, the 2012 Civic hybrid first twelve (complete) months sales is below Fusion, I am disappointed.

    4. Hybrid sales as a % of U.S. sales:
    Toyota 10.7%
    FoMoCo 1.8%
    Honda 2.7%

    Don’t forget the debut of FMC Civic is delayed for about 6 months, therefore, there’re less sales of Civic hybrid than it would, CR-Z was debuted in late Aug. Only a little more than 4 months’ sales in 2010.

    5. Don’t forget a large portion of sales of domestic automakers lies in fleet sales. Toyota is also a big player in fleet sales. I think I read that the Toyota (sales?) chief in the U.S. blamed the overall drop of sales in a fall off of fleet sales, he said the sales to ‘retail’ customers was stable.

    Out of Fusion’s ~220k sales last year, 68k (or ~31.2%) are fleet sales.
    Of the top ten selling sedans, 31.2% is the third highest after Impala (72.6%!!!) & Malibu (32.2%).
    Remember, the hybrids sold to the U.S. government paid more than 5,000 less for its hybrid than sticker price. How much will it hurt the second hand value of such vehicles? It would be interesting to see how many Camry hybrid and Fusion hybrid are fleet sales. (Camry fleet mix: 17.3%)

    6. CR? I think the blogs of CR and the way of editorial is quite biased. See the debacle of double counting ‘hybrid premium’ when they ‘evaluate’ the financial sense of hybrids. (I think these should be first year college stuff, and they published the crap without knowing it.)

  • Anonymous

    @Charles, Furthermore, there is a difference which what is in Autoblog Green’s blog and Bloomberg’s report.
    My quotes that come from Bloomberg are not in ABG.

    (P.S. Double check each and every word I quote from Bloomberg before rushing off to another reply.)

  • Anonymous

    @Charles,

    Bloomberg reports:
    1. GSA bought at least 14,584 hybrid vehicles in the *past two fiscal years*;
    2. the government purchased about 64% of GM’s Chevy Malibu hybrid models and 29% of all Ford Fusion hybrids *manufactured since Obama took office in 2009* (Jan 2009 I think).

    It never says anything about hybrid sales in the U.S. for 2009 or 2010.
    The report is filed in Nov. 2010.

  • Nelson Lu

    Anonymous:

    Why would you want our government to buy clearly inferior Honda hybrids? Wouldn’t you want them to buy the best hybrids possible?

  • Anonymous

    “The cash for clunkers program launched in Japan is only for Japanese automobiles and all foreign vehicles were shut out.”

    There are a lot of nuance that the USA Today, as usual, missed. (Like ABG’s piece ‘based’ on a ‘report’ from another source: this time from DFP. Unfortunately, the piece from DFP is not available any more. Fortunately, thanks for good internet search engine, there are a lot of info available on the net. It all depends on if you are willing to make the effort to click and press enter.) Viola ….

    According to a Congressional research report:
    - between Apr 2009 and Sep 2010, the Japanese accelerated vehicle retirement program Eco-Car initially excluded certain low volume vehicles that are ‘not certified under’ domestic ‘safety, mileage, and emission standards. Japan, like many countries in Europe and elsewhere, employs a “type-approval” process in which vehicles and their components [...] approved by government regulators prior to entering the market.’;
    - certain requirements like min. fuel economy requirement were relaxed in Jan 2010 for certain U.S. vehicles like: GM Hummer H3, Cadillac CTS, Chrysler G. Voyager and Ford Escape XLT.

    (As usual, there are a bunch of crying babies in the U.S. and a lot of half-facts, if not B.S. floating around.)

    If I’m a taxpayer in Japan, I’d surely be dissatisfied that, due to ‘external’ pressure, my tax dollar is now available to those who want to buy a Hummer3 under an Eco-Car program which is supposed to promote fuel efficiency. [What an irony!]

    P.S. In the same report, it says: during the time of the program, European vehicles were the most popular imports and VW was the most popular brand, with sales rising 12%(66k), Audi rose 9% (26k). Among D3, sales fell except for Chevrolet (1.2k), Ford (4.5k) [believe me, I guess they are made in Thailand], Caddy 1.5k, Dodge 1.5k. It seems that there are just some capable automakers like VW, and some ‘less’ capable ones who always cry foul…..

  • Anonymous

    Nelson,

    You mean Chevy Malibu hybrid, of which the U.S. governmen bought almost 2/3 of what GM produced in the previous two years?

    Oh my…… oh my …

    May be love is blind.

    Have you bought GM (stock), yet?

  • Anonymous

    @Nelson,

    No. I’m just pointing out that the U.S. “[g]overnment will purchase only the local brands and not the foreign” is just ‘myths’, as it bought Prius and Civic hybrid.

  • devin irons

    I see, Honda is using Lithium Batteries. Thanks :)

  • Nelson Lu

    The Malibu Hybrid’s technology and the Civic Hybrid’s technology are very analogous to each other. So, if you are admitting that the Malibu had inferior technology…

  • Anonymous

    charles said:

    “Point 2, Honda has the only hybrids with significant battery quality questions. Another hurdle for Honda to overcome.”

    you hit the nail right on the head. purchasing a hybrid is often a premium already… one needs to feel comfortable that they are not getting a potentially unreliable product. this is often judged base on past track records, which honda really needs to improve on (e.g. hch) before i will even think about buying one from them.

  • Anonymous

    @Nelson,
    What you’re saying is just half the fact. To say ” Malibu Hybrid’s technology and the Civic Hybrid’s technology are very analogous to each other” is like saying as Malibu, Fusion and Camry, they all use either 4-cylinder engine or V6, their powertrain are analogous to each other. Such assertion seems ridiculous, in my opinion.

    Let’s look at some facts,
    A 2009 Malibu hybrid uses a belt-driven motor-generator(BAS) with an ICE engine of 164 hp, and a motor rated at 5 hp. The combined output is still 164 hp ONLY. It uses a (an almost pre-historic one) four-speed auto transmission. It weighs about 3,570 lb in a C/D test/review.
    EPA rating: 26 /34. (EPA rating for a 2009 Malibu with 2.4 engine is 22 /33.) The improvement in fuel efficiency is about 4 mpg in city, 1 mpg in hwy.

    The 2009 Civic hybrid comes with an ICE of 93 hp, with a motor of 20 hp. (4x that of Malibu hybrid). Combined output is 110 hp. It uses CVT, which is much more fuel efficient than a traditional auto transmission. It weighs about 2,877 lb (about 20% less than Malibu hybrid).
    EPA rating: 40/ 45 mpg. (EPA rating for a 2009 Civic with A/T is: 25/ 36 mpg.) The improvement in fuel efficiency is about 15 mpg in city, 9 mpg in hwy. (That is 3.75x and 9x the improvement for Malibu hybrid respectively.)

    It is sad that some here are only willing to look on the surface and jump to his/her conclusion without doing a little homework and dig deeper.

    Isn’t there an old saying: Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.

  • DownUnder

    Anon,
    I think Nelson will attack any hybrid car except Ford Fusion. He must be a Ford man.

  • Anonymous

    Sean, Oh, …. I see.

  • Nelson Lu

    I like the Fusion’s technology, so I must be a Ford person. How can I argue with that logic?

    Honda fans can shut me up by showing how Honda’s technology is superior. You can’t, because it’s not. For vehicles that are as small as Honda’s hybrids, the mileage is simply pathetic, as is the performance. The CR-Z is no BMW Active Hybrid, for sure, mileage-wise, but nor is it anywhere close in size or power. It’s a joke as a “sports hybrid” given its inability to outdo the Fusion – or, for that matter, the Camry significantly – in either mileage or performance.

    Now, one coming hybrid manufacturer that is no joke and can potentially leapfrog everyone – yes, including Ford and industry-leading Toyota – is Hyundai. But that’s because Hyundai might, and is likely to (at least for a while) actually deliver the better goods – same/better mileage with slightly greater power – at a lower price. Unlike Honda, which had simply been playing tricks with mirrors.

  • Anonymous

    Too bad some here still are as confused as ever. First claimed: ” Malibu Hybrid’s technology and the Civic Hybrid’s technology are very analogous to each other”. Sorry, proven wrong and plainly misguided.

    May be you have never learnt how to use your left foot with your right foot while driving, and is satisfied with controlling the car with two pedals. TOO bad. Do Ford or Toyota, up to now, offer a hybrid that can be combined with manual transmission? Sorry, no. And they lack such technology.

    So instead of looking into what they’re missing, fans of Ford (or Toyota or GM) retort to internet spec comparison. Too bad, until there’s a comparable product offered by Ford or any other automaker, there simply no competition.

    To those less educated, for comparison:
    MINI Cooper CVT EPA 28 /36 mpg; Honda CR-Z CVT EPA 35 /39 mpg; (25% and 8.3% improvement respectively)
    MINI Cooper M6 EPA 29 /37 mpg; Honda CR-Z M6 EPA 31 /37 mpg. (7% improvement in city driving.) What alternatives does one have who want a M6 in a sporty hatchback? (Especially to those who are concerned of MINI’s checkered reliability history or, worse, burnt by one.)

    P.S. Hyundai? Are you serious? It touts its Sonata hybrid for how many months? First, it said it would be released before year end. Then promises in Jan 2011. Where is it now? Hyundai is great, in marketing (only).
    I read: “My imaginary car beats your real one every time… It’s lighter, gets better mileage, is faster and looks better. ” So true.

  • Anonymous

    BTW, my colleague’s CR-Z regularly returns 46 mpg.

  • C.S.

    The fact of the matter is that Honda’s IMA technology is more than 10 years old, dating with the release of the original Insight. Some people may disagree, but the IMA system is really more of an “assist” system, which really allows a car to use a smaller displacement engine to provide better highway fuel economy, and still provide power and battery assist to improve the city fuel economy.

    Honda’s steady state fuel economy numbers for their engines are already extremely efficient: you can cruise at 65mph with the Fit’s 1.5L and get over 40mpg highway (the key word is: steady state, the EPA highway test still has various speed swings that simply do not favor Honda engines and IMA). My opinion is that they’ve been focused (and still are) on cost reduction and profits more, and it’s simply that the other auto makers have caught up by using direct injection and other optimizations.

    The Civic Hybrid has actually two key improvements, the first is the lithium battery pack and upgraded motor, but the second is a use of an atkinson cycle engine. Both are going to contribute significantly to the _real_world_ fuel economy numbers for the car, despite the displacement bump to 1.5L from 1.3L.

  • dom cariaga

    Hi!How long is the life of the Hybrid Batterries?and what is the deal for replacement?thanks!

  • MS

    @dom – The hybrid bateries for cars that do not use plug-in are expected to be fine during all the car life.

    For example the Prius first generation with more than 10 years, are still running with the original batterias and still with a great mileage. My Prius 2G with 6 years still makes the original excelent mileage.

    For these new Lithium batteries, there is past information to give us that detail. Only Honda can say.