American Honda Motor Debuts New Civic Hybrid

January 01, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. (Detroit, MI) unveiled its new gas-electric Civic Hybrid model at a press conference for the Washington DC auto show. The Civic Hybrid will be Honda's second hybrid model, following the two-seat Insight. Like the Insight, the batteries automatically recharge and the vehicle is not “plugged in”.

The Civic Hybrid uses a small gasoline engine coupled with an electric motor. EPA fuel economy figures have not been finalized yet, but are expected to be about 50mpg for both city and highway driving. The Civic Hybrid uses Honda's patented Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. The 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine reduces engine friction by 50 percent and increases the amount of energy recovered during deceleration.

The IMA system combines the power control unit and the battery pack into a central system called the intelligent power unit. The new packaging reduces the size of the system by 50 percent and allows designers to locate the Civic Hybrid's IMA equipment behind the rear seat in the trunk.

The 2003 Civic Hybrid is expected to cost approximately $20,000. Sales are expected to average about 2,000 vehicles a month.