Japanese carmaker Honda has developed a new technology – the Ecological Drive Assist System -- aimed at helping drivers achieve better fuel economy. To start with, Honda will install this new system on the new Insight family hybrid car that will be released in spring 2009.
When released, the Ecological Drive Assist System will be the world’s first system that combines three different functions to improve fuel economy. One of them is an ECON Mode that controls engine, transmission and other powertrain parts to support more fuel-efficient driving.
Just by pushing the ECON button on the dashboard, this mode can be activated right away for a more fuel efficient driving. ECON mode doesn’t only control the engine, CVT and other powertrain components, it also makes the needed adjustments on the air conditioning unit and extends idle stop time.
Furthermore, this model’s regenerative recharging during deceleration improves the Insight’s fuel efficiency. Another function is a guidance function that should help drivers become more fuel efficient while driving with the aid of the color of the speedometer display. Acting like a guide, this function features an ambient meter in the form of a background color behind the speedometer display. Colors change according to the vehicle’s real time fuel consumption.
For instance, the ambient meter will display a green color when fuel-efficient driving is being achieved. On the other hand, it will display a blue-green color when relatively fuel-efficient driving is being achieved. Lastly, the meter will display a blue color during heavy fuel consumption.
Therefore, ambient meter should increase the awareness of drivers of their real-time fuel consumption patterns, thereby encouraging them to be more fuel efficient. The Ecological Drive Assist System’s Ambient Meter is the first technology in the world that encourages drivers to become more environmentally responsible by responding to braking practices as well as acceleration. The third is a scoring function that provides immediate as well as long-term feedback on driving techniques.
This function -- located within the Multi-Information-Display in the center of the instrument panel -- provides cumulative, long-term feedback using graphic ‘leaves’, which ‘grow’ over time as a drivers learn and execute a driving style that improves fuel economy. The display shows a score reflecting the real time driving performance of the driver as long as the ignition switch is turned on.
When the switch is turned off, the ‘leaves’ in the top row will display a score for the most recent trip. Drivers can view their cumulative lifetime performance or ‘lifetime score’ through the horizontal bar in the bottom row of the display. The function’s Multi-Information Display allows fuel economy figures for the past three trips to be viewed. The display could also show instantaneous and average fuel economy statistics.
Because of the visual nature of the scoring function display, drivers will find it both easy and enjoyable to improve their driving skills and their efficiency in using fuel.
As planned, the Japanese carmaker developed the Ecological Drive Assist System to help customers improve their fuel economy in real world conditions. When the technology debuts in the Insight in the spring, it will be the world’s first function of its kind to provide real-time and post-trip assessments of the impact of driving habits on fuel economy.
Surely enough, the Ecological Drive Assist System will bolster the appeal of the Insight that will arrive in the United Kingdom in the spring next year. As has been announced, the Insight will have a price that is significantly lower than any other hybrid on the market.
A production version of the Insight will be unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show, in January 2009. John Kingston, Government Affairs and Environment Manager at Honda (UK) remarked that while hybrid technology delivers great fuel economy and low emissions, these can be affected by driving style. He noted that the new technology encourages greener, more efficient driving, “in a fun and engaging way.”