American Honda faces suit over Civic Hybrid’s mpg

Article by Anita Panait, on January 5, 2012

Heather Peters, 46, of Los Angeles, has filed a $10,000 suit against American Honda Motor Co. after her Civic Hybrid allegedly failed to meet to gasoline mileage expectations. The suit was filed on January 3, 2012 in a small-claims court in Torrance, Calif., where Honda is prohibited from bringing a lawyer. According to the reports, Peters expected the car to run 50 mpg as the company assured.

However, the car had been running on around 30 mpg as its battery deteriorated over time. Peters is seeking reimbursement for the difference in hybrid’s purchase price and that of conventional Civic. She is also seeking reimbursement for the extra money she spent on gasoline.

Peters opted out from a series of class actions filed on behalf of Honda hybrid owners over the vehicles’ fuel economy, the Los Angeles Times reported.  Honda is proposing a settlement under which plaintiffs will be given no more than $200 cash and a rebate of $500 or $1,000 when buying a new Honda.

Honda has admitted that the battery on 2006-08 Civic Hybrids “may deteriorate and eventually fail” sooner than envisaged. This will cause the car to rely on the gasoline engine, thus affected its fuel economy, according to the Times.

Looking at the 2012 Honda Civic, for both the Coupe and Sedan versions, there is no doubt that when it comes to the history of this model, the new version is not only the most aggressively styled but its most aerodynamic as well.

That’s not all as it also appears to be its most functional version yet as it offers versatility in a way that many Civic customers want. Even then, Honda is still offering the 5-passenger body style for the Coupe and the Sedan. In terms of design, the Coupe has one that shows excitement and drama while the Sedan is more on being efficient and refined.

As mentioned, the two are aerodynamic as the narrow A-pillars and the sleek windshield angle allow for better visibility to the outside. For the Coupe though, its C-pillars are thinner. There are also a number of aerodynamic aids especially under-vehicle ones and fitted with the low-rolling resistance tires, through this is not available for the Civic Si.

For the Civic Hybrid, it is equipped with the latest Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA, which utilizes a 4-cylinder i-VTEC 1.5-liter gas engine as its main power source with an electric motor having Continuously Variable Transmission, with output of 23 horsepower, giving not only extra power but also electricity regeneration capability.

This electric motor gets its power from the newest Lithium-Ion battery pack, which when compared to the nickel-metal hydride battery, is more compact, lighter, and gives more power.

Combined, the gas engine and electric motor deliver output of 110 horsepower coming in at 5,500 rpm with peak torque of 127 lb.-ft. available from 1,000 and up to 3,500 rpm. Thus while the new Civic Hybrid has the same output as that of the previous version, it is able to achieve this by 500 rpms lower. In terms of torque, it boasts of an additional 4 lb.-ft. and spread over an rpm range that is wider.

These result in better performance especially when driving around the city. The IMA powertrain in the new Civic Hybrid is in its fifth generation and is unlike that of the prior model as it improves acceleration at highway speeds. Even then, the EPA-estimated combined highway/city fuel economy is better by 3 mpg at 44 mpg. Speaking of acceleration, this is made possible in the Civic Hybrid by either the gas engine or the combined efforts of the gas engine and the electric motor.

During sustained cruising, this is made possible by activating the gas engine, its electric motor, or both. Should the driver decide to brake, its gas engine is automatically deactivated in order to allow the electric motor to become a generator and refill its battery pack.

Once the vehicle comes to a stop, it is possible to put the engine into an idle-stop mode in order to help conserve fuel and even lower emissions. This will continue until such time that the driver releases the brake pedal.

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