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Honda To Put More Effort Into Advanced Hybrids

23 April 2009

In a presentation at SAE 2009 World Congress, Kenji Nakano, Senior Chief Engineer, Honda R&D said that Honda has changed its view of the role and longevity of hybrid technology.

Up to now, said Nakano, Honda had looked at hybrids as a short-term technology bridge between the current state of affairs and fuel cell technology and full EVs.

But hybrids have stayed in limelight longer than we expected. Today, an increasing number of people think that hybrids will remain a player 2-3 times longer, until fuel cell vehicles and electric vehicles begin [gaining share]. Hybrid technology is also applied to fuel cell vehicles, range-extender vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles. Thus, instead of being a bridge technology, hybrids are expected to remain in the mainstream for quite some time.

—Kenji Nakano

Nakano outlined a potential product portfolio running from internal combustion engined vehicles; mild hybrids; strong hybrids; plug-in hybrids; range extended electric vehicles; and full battery electric vehicles. The best choice, he said, will differ depending upon the vehicle type and use.

We think simple lightweight hybrid systems such as IMA are now suitable, especially for compact cars. We’ll do our best to promote hybrid technology which leads to electric drive [such as plug-in hybrids].

—Kenji Nakano

Separately, Honda issued a statement confirming its commitment to the development and production of cleaner diesel engines for Europe.

Honda has just completed the construction of a new engine plant to supply cylinder blocks and casting parts for its 2.2-liter diesel engines in European models. The manufacturing facility, at Ogawa in Japan, will start production in autumn this year, following the installation and testing of machines and equipment.

Honda currently produces diesel engine cylinder blocks at its Suzuka factory in Japan, and will gradually transfer the casting and machining process of engine parts to the new Ogawa plant. The new Ogawa plant will then supply diesel engine parts to the Sayama factory, to go into the Accord for the European market. It will also supply diesel engine parts for Honda’s factory in Swindon, which produces Civic and CR-V models.

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They finally saw the plug-in writing on the wall...

Plugging in is good even if you can not run on all electric. It allows something like an IMA to run with more motor power and that saves more fuel.

Thus this change in attitude has anything to do with Toyota's Hybrids success?

EVs, with a small on-board range extender genset or PHEVs, may be around for longer than expected or until such times as batteries have been improved (from 100 Wh/Kg to closer to 400 to 500 Wh/Kg) and cost has gone down from $1000/Kwh to around $200 or $250 per Kwh)

Since this may not happen for another 10-12 years or so, PHEVs will have their day.

Correction"


Does this change in attitue........

Harvey,

Those EVs with range extender (like Volt) are in my opinion always going to cost significantly more than PHEVs that run in blended mode (like Prius based PHEV, with large battery and e-motor capable of continous e-propulsion in urban driving, and perhaps at lower highway speeds, up to 90-100 kmph).

If you'd like to have an EV with small range extender genset, which cannot supply all the power to the car once the battery gets depleted, then you'd have to start running it long before battery is depleted. It's possible, but you'd need some manual controls for it, and such system won't be popular where vast majority of people drive automatics (like in N. America).
(I think for the same reason Toyota removed switch for electric-only mode from pre-2009 Prius for US market, while such switch was included on Prius sold in Japan, Europe, Australia).

The EREVs (like Volt) require powerful generator (Volt will have a 30 kW continous), to power the e-motor when batery gets depleted. The generator adds alot to the total cost. All those very compact motors and generators (like from UQM) use expensive rare earth elements for magnets, and with exploding demand are likely to become even more so.

The induction motors with copper cage rotor (like in Tesla roadster, and BMW Mini prototype) are likely to be much cheaper, just copper and iron (and complex control software, for large volume not a big issue). Reportedly the technology of making/casting copper cage rotors has been available only in the last 5-6 years. Some French company makes them for Siemens (for industrial drives). Who makes them for AC Propulsion and Tesla, I don't know.
Currently (AFAIK) only AC Propulsion can provide high performance induction motors for cars, comparable with PM motors. Even BMW went for AC Propulsion's motor for Mini, which I read there was no German supplier of suitable motors (No Bosch, Siemens, Continental - Europeans are late comers here).

IMO people will be reluctant for many years to buy pure BEVs, from fear of being stranded on the road, and unknown reliability record.
Many will prefer PHEVs as a kind of assurance.

MG:

I agree with you that high performance storage batteries are not mature enough to supply sufficiant assurance for extended BEV drives.

I too (for the next few years) would perfer a PHEV (with a small on board genset) to get me back home or to a quick charge station.

On drives-trips above the batteries capability, the driver should have enough common sense to push the (long drive button) for early genset operation. However, I may also have to agree that this complex operation may have to be limited to Europe and Asia, where drivers are more aware.

Otherwise, we may have to hire a co-driver to push the button at the right time.

30kw inductive alternators are not expensive, Raser is inductive and they intend to compete on price. I do not think that you need a long drive button, the genset turns on when state of charge reaches a preset level. When 2/3 of the battery bank capacity is used, the genset starts charging. If the car takes 15kw to run at highway speeds, the other 15kw goes into the batteries and charge them in about 20 minutes. 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off like a refrigerator, air conditioner or furnace.

SJC,

"20 minutes on and 20 minutes off like a refrigerator, ..."

If your genset is equally efficient at 30 and 15 kW, you'd be better off running it constantly at 15 kW.

Reason:
You can have a small ultracap bank connected to battery with smart "two-way electronic valve".
The inverter for motor takes power from ultracaps. Genset also charges ultracaps. Ultracap voltage is allowed to vary in range of say +/- 15% of battery voltage (as much as inverter can work efficiently).
That way genset will be feeding motor via ultracaps. For acceleration extra power will be taken from batteries.
Remember that ultracaps are much more efficient than batteries (I'd say 10-15% or more).

So if you run genset constantly, you'd avoid most of the time the battery charging/discharging inefficiencies.

Another reason is that it is easier on batteries (fewer cycles), would last longer.
(Reason against this could be increased engine wear (??) and noise).

I believe that Prius uses similar setup, to achieve high efficiency when a portion of the power goes from engine via MG1 (generator) to MG2 (motor).


Regarding 'long-drive-button' that Harvey proposed:
I think it makes alot of sense for smaller gensets that cannot provide enough (continuous) power for highway driving, but can provide continuous power for speeds up to, say, 65 kmph (40 mph).

If you wait for the control unit to start the genset when 2/3 of the battery bank capacity is used, afterwards you'd be able to drive only at lower speeds (up to 40 mph, on average).
But if you pressed the long-drive-button much before the depletion event, you'd be able to drive at high speed much longer (although total range would be shorter due to higher losses at higher speeds).

BTW, in terms of trustworthiness of their announcements, I put Raser in the same league with EESTOR, Scuderi, and the Israeli microturbine (and battery) company.
Have you seen any diagram (torque vs rpm) of Raser wonder motor?
I haven't.

I agree that a smaller engine/genset running longer is likely to be more efficient (fewer cold/cool starts, lighter weight, etc). The only downside I could see would be the potential inability to enable 65 mph in very long climbs (over the Rockies, for example) if not started with a full charge. Given that this would likely represent a very tiny minority of use (<1%), a smaller engine/genset than the 1.4l/30kw pair seems sensible on all fronts, especially cost.

I remember a decade ago running the power figures for an EV-1 traveling at 60 mph flat and level and believe the power requirement ended up being 6hp. Add in acceleration and normal hill-climbing would certainly more than double this (dependent on MA), though it wouldn't be anywhere near the current engine size.

How was the Volt intended to be used? This is Green Car, so we ought to be able to answer that. Is is made to come on and produce say 15kw with a 100 hp engine and 75 kw alternator, or was it meant to come on now and then and produce energy at its most efficient point? Inquiring minds want to know....the truth, not opinion.

I have gone through several articles and all I can find is a mention of charge-sustaining mode. It says that the Volt will be at 85% state of charge when plugged in. It will be somewhere between 80% and 30% state of charge nominally. The idea is to get long life out of the batteries.

They say that when state of charge is 30% the engine comes on in charge-sustaining mode, which is not explained. I presume that means that it will try to keep the batteries at or above that level. If I leave them there and there is a surge in demand, they may fall below that level. So, I may take them above that level for quick power demands to insure that they never go below that level. It would depend on how quickly they can charge and how fast the engine can respond. The engine can respond quickly, with a penalty. The batteries take time to charge.

This is a method that GM has taken a lot of time to work on. Where is the maximum efficiency point of the engine? How to you get the maximum life out of the batteries? Is the engine in cold start after being off for 5,10,20 minutes? Is it a warm start and does not pollute and run inefficiently for the first few minutes?

I do not know the answers to this and it seems like more than 2 years after the introduction of the Volt in January 2007, a lot of other people do not either.

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