2012 Honda Civic Hybrid ditches NiMH for Li-ion; 35% more efficient

Honda's new 2012 Civic Hybrid will ditch the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in its previous two generations for lithium-ion batteries. It manages 44 miles per gallon.

Japanese automaker Honda on Thursday announced that its new 2012 Civic Hybrid will ditch the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in its previous two generations for lithium-ion batteries.

The switch makes the new model 35 percent more efficient than its predecessors, Honda says. The new model manages 44 miles per gallon city or highway, up from 40 or so.

It was introduced in time for the New York International Auto Show.

The 2012 Civic Hybrid keeps Honda's "Integrated Motor Assist hybrid drivetrain, but pairs it to a larger 1.5-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, up from 1.3 liters. Honda says the bump is for improved mid-range torque -- the stuff that ensures you merge onto a busy highway safely.

The new model also carries a lighter, larger and more powerful electric motor (20-kW, a 5kW bump) that offers up to 23 horsepower. Combined horsepower clocks in at 110 at 5500 rpm, with 127 lb-ft. of torque at 1000 to 3500 rpm.

The gasoline engine remains the primary source of power, however:

  • During acceleration, the engine or an engine-electric motor combination propel the vehicle.
  • During cruising, the gasoline engine and/or the electric motor propel the vehicle.
  • During braking, the gasoline engine deactivates and the electric motor regenerates the battery pack.
  • At a complete stop, the engine shuts off. (It restarts the moment the brake pedal is released.)

Still, the electric drivetrain upgrades allow the new model to operate more frequently on the electric motor's power alone in low-speed cruising situations.

The new model also shares the rest of the new lineups new looks, head to tail. The company did not indicate price or availability, but it shouldn't be too far from the 2011 model; a fully loaded hybrid will run just south of $27,000 MSRP.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com


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