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2010 Honda Insight

Honda CR-Z

2010 Toyota Prius
Honda still can't find the magic recipe to beat the Prius

When it comes to hybrid vehicles, it appears that Honda just can't catch a break. Its first generation Insight hybrid was the first such vehicle to hit American soil a decade ago, however, the vehicle was a sales failure. Honda went on to develop a Civic Hybrid which hasn't exactly been a Prius competitor in terms of sales and the company's Accord Hybrid, like the Insight before it, failed in the marketplace.

Honda looked to go after Toyota's Prius again with a larger, second generation Insight. However, Honda again ran into a brick wall. Honda managed to undercut the Prius by a few thousand dollars, but also did so with a much smaller vehicle that was not as fast, not as tech-laden, and not nearly as fuel efficient as the third-generation Prius. When it comes to actual vehicle sales, the numbers don't lie. Honda sold roughly 20,500 Insights during 2009 in the U.S. -- Toyota, on the other hand, sold nearly 140,000 Prius hybrids.

"Are we happy with how sales are going? No, we're not happy," said American Honda executive VP John Mendel.

Faced with the prospect of another dud in the hybrid marketplace, Honda chief Takanobu Ito is calling on his engineers to develop a vehicle that will "Out Prius" the Prius according to Automotive News. Ito wants a hybrid that will be able to exceed the stellar fuel economy ratings of Toyota's crown jewel. Toyota's Prius is rated at 50 mpg (city/highway combined) while the smaller Insight is rated at just 41 mpg (city/highway combined).

"We want to develop and expand our hybrids," said Ito earlier this month in Detroit. "We made some major sacrifices to shift people and resources to do that."

While Honda looks like it will have its hands full developing a vehicle to topple the Prius, it has also just launched a new "sporty" hybrid aimed at enthusiasts. The CR-Z can be had with a manual transmission, but fuel economy junkies should be warned -- choosing to the manual will result in a serious hit to city fuel economy. A CR-Z equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) will be rated at 36/38 mpg (city/highway). Opting for the six-speed manual transmission, however, will cut those numbers to 31/37 mpg.

For comparison, a Mini Cooper (six-speed manual) gets 28/37 mpg without the need for hybrid components.

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RE: Someone needs to get a clue
By Sureshot324 on 1/25/2010 7:07:30 PM , Rating: 2
Turbine engines are would be very fuel inefficient for a car. They are efficient at their optimal rpm, but efficiency drops off very quickly after that, and they have horrible idle efficiency. They are also very expensive to manufacture, since they are more complex than piston engines and need to be made of more heat resistant materials since they run at higher rpms and thus hotter.

They have a great power to weight ratio, but this has a negligible effect on the weight of the entire car. The Mazda RX8 has horrible fuel efficiency despite it's very light rotary engine.

Capacitors have far lower energy densities than batteries. The main advantage of capacitors is very fast discharge, but cars with battery powered electric motors already have plenty of off the line torque, so this is a non issue.

Not sure where you're going with the op-amp thing. Amps amplify an electrical signal (such as an audio or data signal) but require energy to do so. They are not a source of power, so I don't see how you think they are a replacement for batteries.

RE: Someone needs to get a clue
By dgingeri on 1/25/2010 8:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not talking a regular turbine or a rotary engine, I'm talking a Tesla Turbine:

it's totally different.

the capacitors would be used for regenerative braking to enhance startup and regain some of the energy lost to braking. It's as simple as that. It's not totally a replacement for batteries (which would not be in my design) but just a temporary storage for the energy from regenerative braking.

The op amp can be used to turn a normal AC power into a "spikey" DC power for better motor use.

(Basically, run through an op amp in a slightly different way than just a signal, AC power at 12 volts turns into DC power with spikes from 24 volts to 240 volts, with current semiconductor technology, depending on the value of a certain resistor, which would be adjustable by the accelerator pedal. Then it is run through a transformer, yes DC power can be used this way as long as it in not constant DC, and turned in to 24,000 volts, which would be better utilized by the special electric motors.)

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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