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Report: Honda to Introduce Hybrid Fit in 2007 Using Insight Powertrain

4 May 2006

HybridCars.com reports that Honda will indeed release a hybrid version of the Honda Fit subcompact (earlier post), using the powertrain from the hybrid Insight. The new hybrid is scheduled for release in mid-2007.

The wheel-hub to wheel-hub dimensions of the Fit and Insight are identical. According to Hybridcars.com’s source, who wished to remain anonymous, “The Fit is going to get the Insight engine. It’s already a proven powertrain. It will probably get fuel economy in the low to mid-50s.”

The source speculated that Honda would continue to make the Insight—which usually currently sells less than 100 units per month—to maintain its position as the provider of the most fuel-efficient vehicle manufactured for American roads. The manual drive version of the two-door Honda Insight carries an estimated EPA highway rating of 65 mpg.

In the interview, HybridCars.com learned that Honda would also release a hybrid version of its CR-V mini-SUV in late 2006. Honda has not publicly confirmed its plans for hybrid versions of the Fit or CR-V.

May 4, 2006 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)

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I test drove the Fit the first day it came out. What a great car! As a tall person, economy cars can be a bit difficult, but there's ample head and legroom in that vehicle, and the different "modes" of seat configurations are very clever and space-efficient. It was also a blast to drive with the tipronic-type "shifting" on the steering wheel and the handline was excellent compared to the Scion xB.

I've also driven the Insight with a CVT and was surprised how gutless it was, considering its low weight. I trust Honda is going to do something to get a little more power out of its engine, because I believe the Fit outweighs the Insight by at least 500 pounds.

I am very happy to hear this, and hope it happens. I guess Honda is going this route cause the insight powertrain is proven/reliable and this saves them tons and tons on R&D, presumably.

I am a little disappointed that they didn't come out with a brand new powertrain for this, cause the insight's is already 7 years old! A new powertrain with a more efficient, smaller gas engine (doable after 7 years) and with the electric motive drive taking a *much* larger portion in moving the vehicle, with electric only options then available as well (the motor would then have to be seperated from the engine). This would most certainly bolster the mileage significantly.

I guess the insight is to remain for the "die-hards" on the mileage landscape, with this car more oriented for, what, the slightly more "practical" side of the landscape; for people who need to move more people/things.

But it is great to have an extra option here: the fit is certainly more versatile if you don't just need it for the commute to work. I would hope those who hacked the hybrid system of the insight with "MIMA" can do the same with this new fit, as they share the same powertrain. (see earlier post):

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2005/09/hacking_hybrids.html

I haven't driven the insight, but perhaps the manual transmission is more peppy than the CVT version, Joseph. It gets much better mileage, anyways.

__How much does it cost Honda to keep the Insight in production. The model sales do not look good enough to cover the cost of marketing, support, and keeping it in production.
__There is a chance the Hybrid Fit could give the Prius a run for its money.

I haven't driven the insight, but perhaps the manual transmission is more peppy than the CVT version, Joseph.

Perhaps the car was in "drive mode" instead of "sport mode" when I tested it. In "sport mode" its acceleration is the same as the manual transmission version.

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tech/TechSnapInsightFINAL2.pdf

My '81 Civic (all 67 hp of it) can get to 60 two seconds faster than the Insight in "drive mode".

I haven't driven the insight, but perhaps the manual transmission is more peppy than the CVT version, Joseph.

Perhaps the car was in "drive mode" instead of "sport mode" when I tested it. In "sport mode" its acceleration is the same as the manual transmission version.

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tech/TechSnapInsightFINAL2.pdf

My '81 Civic (all 67 hp of it) can get to 60 two seconds faster than the Insight in "drive mode".

Re-applying the Insite drive-train to the Fit will help recover the costs of the Insite. Hopefully the will modernize the drive train while they are at it. If so then they could add the improvments to the Insite and give it even better mileage.

The CRV is available with the 2.2L CDTI engine in europe. This is 140 HP/ 253 ft*lbs torque and ~45/mpg - V8 torque with frugal economy. Why stick a gas-hybrid drivetrain in this vehicle if it won't match their current diesel offering?

-mt

I wonder if the "low to mid-50's" fuel economy is expected real-world or expected EPA. Those are very different animals.

I would also expect that they'd retune the engine for more horsepower and torque to offset the increased weight. This would help explain the lower expected fuel economy.

As for giving the Prius a run for its money... I'd guess yes. The main reason I didn't get the Insight was that I wanted more flexability/versatility out of as expensive a purchase as a car. The Fit addresses those concerns, though it is a bit lacking in the rear seat leg room and safety (no stability control) departments. But if it costs $5-10k less, I'd suspect some people would be willing to make that trade-off.

This is kind of a tangent, but why doesn't Honda use it's know-how in generators and small engines to make a series hybrid? Honda's small engines are amazing workhorses. I think they are really missing an opportunity to corner the market here.

Wonder if Toyota will do the same for the Yaris?

The Fit is too heavy for an unmodified Insight drivetrain. That thing is 2500lbs with an auto tranny (part of the reason why its fuel economy is WORSE than that of a Corolla). The Yaris would be much more driveable with the Insight drivetrain then the Fit since it is around 200lbs lighter with an auto tranny.

I am sure when they say the Insight drivetrain they just mean the wonderfull little 3cyl engine and not the outdated batterypack and small electric motor. I am sure they will use a new civic style motor and maybe a civic style battery .

If they used EVERYTHING from the Insight just the way it is you could use the 'manual ima' hack a clever guy made.

With a stronger electric motor the Fit would not be too heavy though the Insight would feel much sportier driving due to its light weight body.

you think honda will offer a 5 speed version IMA for the fit to retain the sporty feel?

saying that fit will give the prius a run for its money is like saying the yaris will give camry a run for its money. people, who are you kidding, those are two completely different cars, both in terms of size/convenience/interior amenities and price.

As an Insight owner I agree wit the concerns over the wieght... however I've crammed 500Lbs worth of stuff in my 5spd Insight and it is still driveable (it has a lot of torque vs it's weight).

I don't think it is safe to assume that they will use the civic's IMA system, it is very different from the Insight's IMA, so since the report says it wll be the Inisght's IMA... don't expect a 15kW motor.

The Insight's battery pack is not significantly different from the hybrid civic's, the are both 120 D cell packs w/ 144volts and 6.5Ah capacity.

The Fit is heavier, but remember it's engine is heavier too... The Insight's engine is only about 95Lbs w/o transmission.

The best we can hope for, is that they will upgrade the Insight powertrain with the improvments that the 06 civic hybrid got (valve depression for brake regen, and higher kW electric motor). And that both the Fit and Insight will get these upgrades. (I hope they do not kill off the Insight).

Check out the Vitz (Name of the Yaris in Japan), it's being sold there since 2003 with a Insight-like Mild-Hybrid Powertrain and a Li-Ion Battery.

Nothing new really, just nobody can read Kanji, thus these cars go unnoticed in the western word.

Same with the Prius, which was actually the very first Hybrid Car back in 1997, three years before anybody in the west really noticed (and Honda could hurry the Insight to the US Market two years later, claiming to be the first hybrid car manufacturere [for the US market]), one year before Toyota sold it's 2nd Gen Prius in 2000 (the current Prius 2 is actually the 3rd Gen).

For a car, a series hybrid doesn't make any sense. The AC->DC->AC loss is significant. Series hybrids make sense in larger vehicles that start and stop frequently.

all i want in a car is:

1) to turn off my engine when i want, and on whenever i want with no fuss and no muss designed for that kind of operation (FAS)

2) ability to regen to the battery even when the engine is off (FAS to a red light)

3) low cost (for the masses)

4) ability to assist the gasoline engine at its most inefficent times (gm BAS or honda IMA)

i have high faith in the honda fit! and the gm saturn aura too, i hope the cheaper hybrid will previal and i have a feeling honda made the right choice by choosing a smaller car (as opposed to gm targeting big first).

philmcneal
I agree with those goals... I think that Honda's IMA system is the best option due to lower cost; however it can't regen w/o the engine turning.. even with the Civic's valve depression it looses som efficiency there, on the 5spd version Honda could reverse the ordering of the clutch and the IMA motor, so instead of engine->IMA->clutch->tranny it would be engine->clutch->ima->tranny. This would allow for regen w/o the engine turning, and a slight boom to performance since you could continue to apply IMA power while shifting.

As for the on-demand engine shutoff, on the IMA system you just have to install a switch that will cut off the fuel injectors, this will put the computer into "auto shutdown" mode; and it won't turn the injectors back on until either vacume pressure drops, or the car is put back into gear (on the 5spd anyway), not sure what all it looks at on the CVT. So this would be an easy feature fr Honda to equip, but they won't do it because most consumers want LESS control and more automation, not less automation and more control :)

Just a thought. Wouldn't it be nice if Honda and Toyota had a blog where all these suggestions could be bandied about with responses from the people who actually are implementing the technology. I guess it would be too open and transparent for the auto companies' tastes. Maybe we need the equivalent of Linux software for automotive technology.

I would hope the automakers are reading this site, even if they don't contribute.

The 1.5-liter in the Fit is peppy, but, in my test drives, I sense that there isn't much "head room" left, powerwise, were I to need it in a panic situation. If they stick with 1.5 or smaller, it's possible that the Fit hybrid will use the electric motor in a horsepower-increasing role, like in the hyrbid Accords and several other "standard model" hybrid adaptations. If that's going to be the case, I'll be very disappointed in Honda. However, one would hope smog (NOx) emissions would be down for the hybrid, versus the rather-high numbers it puts up currently (more than the average for cars in its class).

Richard wrote:
> Check out the Vitz (Name of the Yaris in Japan), it's being sold there since 2003 with a Insight-like Mild-Hybrid Powertrain and a Li-Ion Battery.

This is wrong information.

The Vits "Intelligent Package" has "TOYOTA INTELLIGENT IDLING STOP SYSTEM". It does automatic idling stop, but the Li-ion battery never drive the vehicle.

Honda dropped the ball in the hybrid market.
Maybe...maybe, they're getting their act together.
Toyota is the 800lb Gorilla.

I drive a Honda Insight, manual transmission. I prefer a manual transmission and wanted a hybrid. At the time i needed to buy a car, the Insight was the only one that met my criteria.

I live in a hilly area, and the Insight performs very well. It's zippy, although it was a bit of strain the few times i had to drive through vertiable mountainous areas. (Reminscent though not as bad as driving my 1969 VW beetle where i had to "hurry up" down the hill to get some extra oomph to get uphill.)

I do drive alone about 98% of the time, no kids, so i don't require a back seat. The car is roomy enough for me--i can fit a passenger with my hockey sticks and hockey bag. I can do a big grocery shopping trip and have plenty of room. I've also gone camping with it, and i've driven it on vacation (500+ miles one way on a tank of gas) with a passenger and luggage.

If i had to buy a car tomorrow, i'd buy another Insight. I hope they do continue to make it. Now, if they'd only come out with a biodiesel model!

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