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Honda CR-Z pictured here is close to production model  (Source: Autoblog)
CR-Z hybrid sport coupe will debut in Japan in February

Hybrid automobiles are all the rage right now with consumers looking to save at the pump and become more eco-friendly. The clear leader in the hybrid realm is still Toyota with its Prius, but for car enthusiasts that like sporty vehicles, the Prius is hardly appropriate.

In September, Honda pulled the wraps off its revamped CR-Z hybrid sports coupe concept. The vehicle is designed to remind of the CR-X that was popular in the 1980's to 1990's for Honda. Honda was vague about the details of the vehicle when it revealed the concept car other than to report the car was only 161 inches long and would use a 1.5-liter i-VETEC 4-cylinder with Honda's IMA hybrid power train. The car is pegged to sell in the $19,000 to $25,000 range.

Autoblog reports that Honda has confirmed that the CR-Z will be coming to the U.S. in the fall of 2010 with a six-speed manual transmission. The vehicle should be the first hybrid vehicle to hit the states sporting a 6-speed manual transmission. Autoblog also notes that the images seen here of the concept are close to what the production vehicle will look like.

The LED lighting will likely change slightly and the mirrors will likely grow. As for official specifications for the powertrain, pricing, and performance; Honda offers no details at this point. The vehicle is set to go on sale in Japan in February so details should be coming around that time.



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Confused
By Drag0nFire on 10/21/2009 11:10:29 AM , Rating: 3
How does a manual hybrid work?

Is there a clutch? Is there regenerative braking? If I engine brake, do I lose that energy?




RE: Confused
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/21/2009 11:15:18 AM , Rating: 2
The first gen Insight Hybrid had a 5-speed stick:

http://i38.tinypic.com/24brfh4.jpg

More info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Insight#Technol...


RE: Confused
By twhittet on 10/21/2009 11:15:54 AM , Rating: 2
I was wondering that too - and I haven't really seen much info on it before. Anyone who knows what they're talking about want to explain a hybrid with a manual transmission?


RE: Confused
By Iridium130m on 10/21/2009 11:28:33 AM , Rating: 4
I had a manual insight for a couple of weeks as a rental. Because the IMA motor is paired to the gas engine before the clutch, you had to be very deliberate in not pushing in the clutch when coming to stops in order to regen and push it in at the last moment possible to not stall the gas motor.

This was a habit that I managed to get into with even my V6 6 speed accord...i had found a fuel flow diag screen on the Navi, and at 0 throttle with the clutch still out a decelerating, the ecm cut the fuel off completely to the motor until around 1200 revs. If I put in the clutch while coming to a stop, the motor would idle and use fuel while decelerating. The technique was probably good for around half an mpg saved in stop and go traffic.

The thing I really did like about the manual insight vs. my CVT Civic hybrid is I could put it into higher gears faster and force the electric motor to do more work. The downside to this was people were frying batteries rapidly, so honda squashed this with CVT setups. I'd be curious how this car will behave and how the insight with the manu-matic behaves if you try to lug the gas motor and force the electric to assist...


RE: Confused
By FITCamaro on 10/21/2009 12:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
I engine brake every day when driving around. Granted I don't row up through the gears. If I'm slowing down from 50 I just leave it in 4-5th until about 25-30 mph and then coast to a stop, using brakes as needed.

If nothing else I love the sound of my exhaust. ;)


RE: Confused
By Samus on 10/21/2009 11:41:38 AM , Rating: 5
I drove an Insight with a 5 speed back in 2000. I remember it being pretty fast off the line, mostly because of the electric motor assist.

Basically how the clutch works is it has a number of position sensors. It has a depression sensor to indicate you're foot is resting on it and about to push it in (also deactivates cruise control,) an angle sensor to measure deflection so the motor doesn't bog when lifting and to prepar the petrol engine to deliver power (i'll explain because this part is interesting) and a floor sensor to indicate the pedal is fully pressed.

All of these sensors are important, because collectively they can accurately gauge clutch activity. The reason its important is because a clutch with a hybrid drivetrain is pretty complicated, which is why nobody has ever done it other than Honda. The Honda family have always loved the sport of autocross, and the S2000 is just a fine example of an excellent autocross vehicle.

Anyway, as soon as you push the clutch beyond 10%, the initial depression sensor has always woken on the ICE system and as soon as the angle sensor detects you're going to the floor it wakes up the motor. Basically the motor has to be running for the clutch to work because the clutch is directly linked to the drivetrain of the ICE (the IMA system assists the drivetrain AFTER the transmission as the motors are 'clutchless' or gearless. They don't go through the transmission.

In theory, the car could travel about 40mph or whatever the motors are rated at without the transmission in gear, because they are completely independent of the gearbox.

This is how the old Insight worked, and I assume this is how the CRZ works, because its impractical to put the car in gear with the ICE off, lift the clutch pedal and have it go nowhere. Electric motors obviously don't idle. It sounds cool until you consider the situation of the ICE being on at a standstill, and you being used to putting it in gear and having the vehicle not move forward as in a motor-assist only situation, but all the sudden having the car jump forward when you're not expecting it because the motor is running.

Either Honda would have to make an idle-simulation program for the electric motors or make sure the ICE is always off at a stand still, to have the system behave any other way. I doubt they've taken either of these approaches as they will have severe impacts on fuel economy, and defeat the one great thing about hybrids which is they turn the engine at low speed.

Hope that makes sense. That's how I understand the technology works from driving one of the original Insights.


RE: Confused
By Alexstarfire on 10/21/2009 1:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting, but it sounds quite painful to have to drive a manual hybrid. Maybe not literally, but figuratively.


RE: Confused
By walk2k on 10/21/2009 2:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
Not really, it's exactly the same as driving a normal manual, only you want to use engine braking a little bit more if you're driving for economy, but a good manual driver always uses engine braking for the same reason (and to save wear on the brakes).


RE: Confused
By Atheist Icon on 10/21/2009 5:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand the use of engine braking unless you are going down a steep grade because you could cause brakes to fail if you used them constantly. I have only used the engine as a brake when I am trying to lock up the rear tires to initiate a powerslide.

I would rather replace the brakes every 5k miles than replace the clutch every 30k.


RE: Confused
By walk2k on 10/21/2009 7:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
Well in a hybrid, engine braking regens the battery so it's very effective.

In a normal car it's still a good idea because the ECU shuts off fuel to the engine. If you shift to neutral instead the engine still requires minimum fuel to idle. It can increase your MPG by a couple % - not alot but it's basically "free" braking and doesn't wear the pads/rotors.

I don't know what you mean about the clutch, engine braking shouldn't wear the clutch, unless it's slipping or something... It may wear transmission gears a bit more, but not very much under normal driving. During extreme driving (like racing, downshifting before a corner, very high RPMs etc) it can cause gears to fail, but if you're racing you're probably used to tearing things apart and replacing bits anyway.


RE: Confused
By Samus on 10/21/2009 7:19:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't understand the use of engine braking


All you need to understand is when you engine brake, you don't use any fuel. When you idle, you do.

quote:
I would rather replace the brakes every 5k miles than replace the clutch every 30k.


What does engine braking have to do with clutch life? The only time you have clutch wear is during positive engagement. Engine braking doesn't involve changing gears...just stay in gear while slowing down (even if its a low gear) and take it out of gear as you stop.


RE: Confused
By Iridium130m on 10/21/2009 9:32:59 PM , Rating: 2
couple of thoughts...
in a hybrid...it isn't engine braking...in the current honda 1.3L engine, during deceleration, and in electric only mode, VTEC closes the valves completely to minimize engine compression and maximize regeneration.
in the non hybrid situation, i wouldn't make it a point to down shift from whatever gear I was in, only if I was in 4, 5 or 6th would I really leave the clutch out while slowing down. I would agree that dropping it to say 2nd at 40 mph would be hard on the drive train (and generally didn't reward me with fuel cut off in the V6 or regen in the insight cause the computer knew i was being stupid).


"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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