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Suzuki Swift Plug-in Hybrid Gains Type Approval from Japanese Government; To Dealers in the Autumn for Testing

Powertrain concept for the Swift plug-in. Click to enlarge.

Suzuki Motor Corporation’s newly developed Swift Plug-in Hybrid, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009 as a concept (earlier post), gained type approval from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on 12 May. As a result, it can, like a typical production car, be registered and receive number plates without having to be physically presented to the ministry.

The Swift Plug-in Hybrid is a series hybrid compact passenger car with a 0.66L engine that’s used for electricity generation in a powertrain based on that of an electric vehicle (EV).

Swift PHEV. Click to enlarge.

The plug-in is powered by a 55 kW, 180 N·m AC synchronous motor and a 2.66 kWh Li-ion battery pack. The 0.66L engine is the K6A, earlier versions of which were used in the Cappuccino. Average fuel consumption, calculated by combining fuel consumption during operation on electric power from grid charge and fuel consumption during hybrid operation after depletion of the battery pack is 37.6 km/L on the JC08 cycle (88.4 mpg US, or 2.7 L/100km).

It can travel about 15 km (9 miles) on battery power. When the battery runs low, it runs on electricity generated by means of the engine. Grid charge time for the battery is approximately 1.5 hours @ 100V and 1h at 200V.

The incorporation of the small engine makes a large volume of costly, heavy batteries unnecessary, so it keeps the cost of the car down and enables the car to be light and compact.

Suzuki plans to ship Swift Plug-in Hybrid units to dealers throughout Japan this autumn and have them subjected to proving tests in order to collect performance data corresponding to regional traffic conditions and information on service issues.



The engineering sounds great. This should have low production costs.
If you are a typical Suzuki driver, older or perhaps retired, then for perhaps the first time it should be possible to reduce petrol consumption to tiny levels as such drivers, at least in the East and Europe, typically do very low mileage


This makes sense. Ultralight vehicle means all components (especially pricey batteries) can be shrunk. My biggest worry would be deep cycling the battery too often, and wearing the battery out faster by hard acceleration taking such a heavy draw on the batteries. They could get around that partially with supercapacitors, but those are still pricey. I think 200 watt hr of SuperCaps cost ~$800.

The net result is a mostly series hybid that lets the tiny genset run at optimum RPM all the time. I probably wouldn't want to go up a long hill in it, but for urban commuting, it's likely real-world ~70 mpg is probably pretty fun.


50wh of capacitors would do you fine for regenerative braking and so on - their very high charge/discharge abilities mean that you need very little energy capacity.
Valeo and another major company whose name slips my mind for the moment are bringing our systems based on them for major European manufacturer's this year:

As I said in my earlier post though, I would see this car as aimed at the typical Suzuki buyer, who is low mileage and for whom the lithium battery route makes sense as much of their driving will be petrol free.
They can hold the costs down by not also providing capacitors.

Will S

Since the Prius achieves 64mpg on the JC08, I would expect the Swift to obtain about 70mpg after depletion, which is pretty damn good. This would be great for commuters and small to medium sized families (which represents about 85% of the market).

With oil prices expected to begin spiking again in the 2011/2012 timeframe, they look to have a winner on their hands. When will this be brought to the US? I'd like one...


This could be an affordable inner-city car that would run on electricity most of the time. As batteries performance increase, the current battery and e-range capacity could be increased for people living in suburbs further away. A 10 miles e-range may be what makes more sense with current battery technology. Toyota is using the same approach with its Prius PHEV.


I have thought that the Volt should offer a 20 mile entry level car. You reduce the amount of expensive batteries, keep them at a good state of charge, they can provide the power when needed, they last a long time AND can be affordable.


PHV Prius in CS mode: 30.6 km/L (72 MPG)
PHV Swift in CS mode: 25.6 km/L (60 MPG)

Fuel economy measured in JC08 cycle and verified by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Note that PHV Swift has 0.66 liter range extender and the Volt has 1.4 liter.

Will S

usb, do you have a link to the numbers you mention above?


Will S,

PHV Swift Spec:

PHV Prius Spec:

Will S

Thanks, interesting. Must be the aerodynamics and 'ECVT' of the Prius that makes the difference.


Atkinson cycle in the Prius ICE is 15% more efficient than the Otto cycle. I don't know what cycle Swift ICE is running with; probably Otto.

eCVT has a direct mechanical path to the wheel. PHV Swift is a series hybrid (like the Volt) so there are conversion loss with it.

Prius ICE can stay in 220 g/kWh BSFC region between 1,200 - 3,200 RPM, thanks to the superior eCVT. Diesel engine peaks at lower BSFC but due to the step gear transmission, the operating area (even in 6th gear) is not as efficient as the Prius at the wheel. See the following two links for detail discussion.

Aerodynamics should play a small role as JC08 test is below 20 mph most of the time and peaks at 50 mph.


2.66kWh is woefully underwhelming for NA city drivers. While adequate for Tokyo or Osaka, this car will run in CS mode most of the time in NA. That means gasoline burned less efficiently than the Prius with shorter AER. But a good entry into the PHEV category proving the product line shows promise.


Great idea to use a small battery.

Remember 2.6 kWh is only twice what the current Prius has (1.3 kWh). Could be a very cost-effective little number.


For me, 15 km is not worth the hassle of plugging it in. My daily commute is 90-100 km roundtrip (depending on traffic), so it would only reduce my petrol consumption by ~15% (I can only charge at home, not at work). I avoid short trips as much as possible by using a bicycle instead of my Prius.

Will S

usb, thanks for the info. Good to see that some people are BSFC-aware.

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