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Honda boosts performance and fuel economy on 2013 CR-Z Sport Hybrid Coupe using new Li-ion pack

2013 Honda CR-Z. Click to enlarge.

The 2013 Honda CR-Z goes on sale 21 November with a number of powertrain, styling and feature upgrades, including a new Li-ion battery pack that replaces the NiMH pack in the MY 2012 CR-Z hybrid and delivers more power and improved fuel economy.

The new, more powerful Lithium-ion battery pack helps boost EPA-rated fuel economy figures by 1 mpg city for CVT equipped models, and 1 mpg highway for CR-Z models equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.

The CR-Z hybrid powertrain is a variation of Honda’s original IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) technology, which made its debut on the 2000 Honda Insight, the first hybrid vehicle available for sale in North America. The system in the CR-Z utilizes a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, single-overhead cam engine with intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (i-VTEC) that receives additional power from the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system’s DC brushless electric motor.

The hybrid CR-Z’s electric motor assists in acceleration and also acts as a generator during braking or coasting to capture kinetic energy that recharges the new Lithium-Ion battery pack. The gasoline engine can automatically turn off during vehicle stops to improve efficiency. When starting on steep inclines from a stop with the manual transmission, hill start assist temporarily prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards during the moment between releasing the brake, depressing the throttle and releasing the clutch.

For 2013, assist from the electric motor has jumped from 10 kW to 15 kW, supported by the new higher voltage (144-volt) Lithium-ion battery pack (15 kW output). (The MY 2012 CR-Z hybrid used a 100V NiMH pack.) The CR-Z now delivers a combined peak output of 130 hp (97 kW) at 6000 rpm and 140 lb-ft (190 N·m) of torque (127 lb-ft/172 N·m on CVT-equipped models), a gain of eight horsepower and 12 lb-ft of torque (4 lb-ft on CVT equipped models). Manual-transmission versions also receive both a larger clutch and a new lower final drive ratio.

Even with better performance, EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2013 Honda CR-Z have improved. On CVT-equipped models, the EPA city/hwy/combined rating is up 1 mpg city to 36/39/37 mpg (6.53/6.03/6.36 l/100 km), while models equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission see an EPA mpg rating of 31/38/34 (7.59/6.19/6.92 l/100 km), a gain of 1 mpg highway. The CR-Z is also rated as an Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) in states that adhere to California Air Resource Board (CARB) ZEV standards (EPA Tier 2, Bin 2 in all states).

To help drivers make use of this improved performance, a new Plus Sport System is standard on the 2013 Honda CR-Z. If the battery is more than 50% charged and the CR-Z is traveling above 19 mph (31 km/h), the driver can activate this feature using the “S+” button on the steering wheel. When activated and the accelerator is pressed, electric boost begins, delivering increased acceleration for up to five seconds. A flashing gauge on the dashboard indicates when the Plus Sport System is active. The Plus Sport System can be used in Econ, Normal or Sport modes.

Activated via three backlit buttons to the left of the steering wheel, the CR-Z’s enhanced 3-mode drive system allows the driver to choose among three individual performance modes:

  • Sport mode enhances engine throttle responsiveness, electric power steering effort and the electric motor power assist.

  • Normal mode standardizes steering, engine response, motor assist and air conditioning settings.

  • Econ mode can increase the potential for enhanced fuel efficiency by optimizing throttle angle for smooth acceleration, lower engine rpm and limiting power and torque by approximately 4-percent (except at wide-open throttle). It can also reduce the air conditioning’s overall load on the engine and modify the cruise control to operate more efficiently.



Anyone know who makes the battery?

Even Toyota will switch to li-ion in hybrids as the cost of the technology drops. Eventually, Li -ion price will be less that NiMH simply based on the materials cost. NiMH has lots of nickel and rare earths, and is a mature technology. Li-ion has no rare earths and there is quite a bit to be improved upon in the way of manufacturing.


More li-ion batteries, less cost, less cost, more li-ion batteries, more..


This is the virtuous cycle in traction-battery development which should have been started in the 1980's, or even the post-oil-shock 1970's.


It is simplistic (in its worst connotation) to believe that making more of something necessarily means the technology will get rapidly better and cost will drop drastically, like happened with PCs and TVs.

The ICE has been made and sold by the multi-millions, but is a Chevy or a Camry much cheaper today?

After 12 years and millions sold has the Prius price dropped in half?


The Chevy of 2012 is very different from the Chevy of 2000.  The Camry was the XV20 model in 2000; the current model is the XV50, 3 revisions on.  The price point isn't determined by production cost of the old design, but by the feature set of the current design.  These things do not stand still.

The Prius has grown from a model into a brand of its own.  If it isn't profitable, Toyota is making a huge mistake... and Toyota didn't get to be where it is by making huge mistakes.


It is not a question of profitability.

It is the simplistic assumption that more li-ion batteries, less cost, less cost, more li-ion batteries, etc is a cycle which should have been started in the 1970's.

The first commercial lithium-ion battery was not released until about 1990 and the technology has been pushed vigorously by consumer electronics.


This could have started with vitreous-carbon-backed lead-acid cells.  No particular chemistry is required.


THIS DID start with vitreous-carbon-backed lead-acid cells.


Actually, it started with conventional PbSO4; Firefly Energy came much later and never got the vitreous carbon into the mass market.


Mass production and competition effectively managed to lower Li-On small replacement batteries (for Digicams etc) price from $50+ to under $5 in the last 5 years or so while capacity went up by 50+% for the same format.

If or when the equivalent improvement are applied to EV batteries, the cost will go down from $100+/kWh to under $100/kWh and the capacity may very well go up by 3X to 5X.

Had the world seriously put more efforts into battery development 40+ years ago, we would certainly have superior (3X to 5X) and lower cost (1/5 to 1/10) units now or by 2015. The 20+ years delay will postpone quick charge extended range affordable BEVs by 20 years or so?



Second para should read....the cost will to down from $1000+/kWh (instead of $100+/kWh) to under $100/kWh......

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