Honda Civic Hybrid buyers will get up to $200 as fuel economy was wrongly advertised

Article by Christian A., on March 19, 2012

Honda Civic hybrid owners may get as much as $200 in cash to settle claims that the car's fuel economy was wrongly advertised, according to a tentative ruling by a U.S. Superior Court judge in California to approve a settlement. A report by the Associated Press stated that between $100 and $200 will be given to the owners of around 200,000 Honda Civics from model years 2003 through 2009.

They will also get a rebate toward the purchase of a new Honda. In addition, the AP said that Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor approved $8.5 million in plaintiff attorney fees under the ruling issued last Thursday. In this tentative ruling, Taylor said that the plaintiffs would prefer to get more and that Honda prefers to not pay anything at all.

News about the class-action settlement was heard across the nation last January when 46-year-old Heather Peters of Los Angeles filed a $10,000 lawsuit against Honda in small-claims court in Torrance, Calif., which is where American Honda is based. Peters filed a claim that her 2006 Civic Hybrid didn’t achieve gasoline mileage expectations and the court ruled that she should get a $9,867 award.

The court said that Honda negligently misled Peters when it claimed that her hybrid would offer as high as 50 miles per gallon. Honda has appealed this case. Peters withdrew from the class-action settlement entered in September 2011 so that she could seek a bigger damage award.

The original class-action suit in 2007 asserted that the Civic's mpg didn’t reach expectations, similar to how Peters described her case. Honda has admitted that the battery used on the 2006-08 Civic Hybrids could “deteriorate and eventually fail" earlier than estimated. This makes it rely on the gasoline engine more, affecting its fuel economy.

Honda Motor, a Japanese multinational conglomerate, recently released the new generation for the critically-acclaimed Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system fitted to the Civic Hybrid. The system utilizes gasoline as the primary source of power, while the regeneration capability provides the vehicle with additional energy lost through deceleration; using the saved energy later on to help accelerate the car.

This effectively increases the rate of acceleration while reducing the work of petrol engine, thus, decreasing its consumption. Impressively, either the gasoline engine, the electric motor, or both, can propel the vehicle during sustained cruising, especially in highway speeds simultaneously delivering a combined city/highway EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 44 mpg.

The new IMA system consists of a larger 1.5-liter i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine connected to a larger, more formidable electric motor and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). CVT is an automatic transmission that can change seamlessly through a continuous range of effective gear ratios. Additionally, a more powerful, lighter, and more compact Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery (versus a nickel-metal hydride battery) pack is used to capture and store electricity for the upgraded 23-horsepower electric motor. With the gasoline- and electric- motors working in unison, the power generated is able to produce an impressive 110 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 127 lb-ft of torque at 1000-3500 rpm.

Though the new Hybrid has the same peak horsepower as its predecessor, the new generation can achieve it at 500 rpm fewer. Moreover, the new Hybrid has gained an additional 4 lb-ft of torque, which was spread over a wider rpm range (between 1000 rpm to 3500 rpm). The improved specifications mentioned above proved that the new Honda Civic Hybrid is more cost-effective, intelligent, and luxurious than its precursors.

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