Honda IMA Civic Debuts Washington D.C. Auto Show

EPA fuel economy expected to be about 50mpg for both city and highway.

Published: 21-Dec-2001

WASHINGTON D.C., Dec. 20, 2001 -- American Honda Motor Co., Inc., unveiled its new gas-electric Civic Hybrid model today at a press conference for the Washington D.C. Auto Show. The Civic Hybrid is making its North American debut at the Show, which opens to the public Dec. 26.

The Civic Hybrid uses a small gasoline engine coupled with an electric motor to provide excellent fuel economy and performance. EPA fuel economy figures have not been finalized yet, but are expected to be about 50 miles per gallon for both city and highway driving. That's about a 30 percent improvement compared to other Civic sedan models, making it the most fuel-efficient five passenger sedan ever sold in the world.

The Civic Hybrid will be Honda's second hybrid model, following the two-seat Insight, the most fuel-efficient vehicle sold in the U.S. Like the Insight, the batteries automatically recharge and the vehicle can't be "plugged in."

"We believe hybrid technology is ready for prime time," said Dan Bonawitz, vice president of corporate planning and logistics at American Honda, speaking at a press briefing prior to the opening of the Washington D.C. show. "The Honda Civic is the best-selling compact car in America and one of the pillars of the Honda brand. To add hybrid power to the Civic lineup is an example of the faith and confidence we have in our hybrid technology."

The Civic Hybrid has a new, more advanced version of Honda's patented Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. The 1.3-liter i-DSI 4-cylinder engine features two spark plugs per cylinder, allowing for a more complete combustion process and further improving fuel economy and reducing emissions. In addition, a newly developed cylinder de-activation system uses Honda's VTEC technology to idle three of the engine's cylinders during deceleration. This system reduces engine friction by 50 percent and greatly increases the amount of energy recovered during deceleration.

The IMA system will be combined with Honda's continuously variable automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual transmission. The Civic Hybrid also will retain the Insight's idle stop feature. When stopped at a traffic light, for example, the engine shuts off automatically then restarts immediately when the driver lets off the brake pedal or puts the car into gear (manual transmission.) This automatic idle stop system contributes to both greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

Another significant advancement from the Insight's IMA system is the combination of the Power Control Unit (the computer "brains" of the system) and the battery pack into a central system called the Intelligent Power Unit (IPU). This new packaging reduces the size of the system by 50 percent and allowed designers to locate the Civic Hybrid's IMA equipment behind the rear seat in the trunk where it has minimal impact on trunk cargo volume and no impact on the Civic sedan's interior volume.

The interior features premium seats and numerous luxury features such as cruise control, power windows, a clear and uncluttered illuminated instrument panel, an automatic climate control system, and a high-power AM/FM/CD audio system.

The 2003 Civic Hybrid equipped with standard alloy wheels, ABS and side airbags is expected to cost approximately $20,000. Sales are expected to average about 2,000 vehicles a month.

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