Honda working hard on the 2012 Civic Hybrid to take on Toyota Prius

Article by Christian A., on November 18, 2010

Toyota Prius will soon be up against a fierce challenger as Honda is now placing the finishing touches to the next-generation 2012 Civic Hybrid. Honda is overhauling the entire Civic lineup but the hybrid model is being prioritized over the conventionally powered Civic.

That is why the 2012 Civic Hybrid is confirmed to go on sale in Japan next year but there’s still no date set for the start of sales of the "normal" Civic.

Sources say that Honda is aiming for an evolution rather than a revolution with the next Civic. The current model has been restyled to have a rounder overall profile but there were no major changes to the design, size or market positioning.

The US market will receive Honda’s sedan and Si coupe body styles, which will be unveiled this January at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. According to a source in Tokyo, Honda’s biggest challenge currently is to come up with a new eco champ that can steal sales away from the Prius. This means that the redesigned Civic Hybrid will be the lead vehicle in the new strategy.

Once again, Honda will be using its unique, home-grown IMA hybrid system, similar to what’s used in the CR-Z.

By next year, the Civic Hybrid will move up from the current 1.3 liters to 1.5 liters. It will be the first Honda hybrid to make use of lithium-ion batteries, which considerably extends the car's EV driving range.

A downside to the current Civic Hybrid with the NI-MH battery pack is that it can barely run a considerable distance in silent, electric-only mode, like the Prius.

Lotus engineering, a consultancy arm of Lotus, the world renowned British car maker, and Oaktec are joining forces to work on Honda Hybrid Rally car. They are aiming to put this fuel efficient and less polluting car on the race track for rally racing and circuits.

Recognized for its electric and hybrid vehicle engineering expertise, Lotus will provide the technical know-how to Oaktec so that the petrol based electric hybrid car makes full use of its potential on the race tracks.

Lotus will look into battery engine system and work on it to enhance the performance as well as the efficiency of the hybrid vehicle. The Honda IMA Hybrid technology provides a wonderful combination of high fuel-efficiency and potent horsepower endowment, which makes the Civic Hybrid an ideal candidate for race and rally application.

CVT which stands for Continuously Variable Transmission is the technology behind the right balance of delivering maximum performance while maintaining fuel efficiency, whilst in race and rally conditions.

CVT in very simple terms keeps auto-judging the drive conditions to deliver the right mix of power and efficiency through a computer controlled transmission system. CEO of Lotus Group, Mike Kimberley says that Lotus engineering is proud to have an impeccable record and they have effectively delivered hybrid models before, on the roads and this time for the race tracks.

He adds that Lotus' Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Technologies Group cater to their large client base consistently and this association with Oaktec reinforces the belief in the expertise and skill of Lotus in the field of hybrid manufacturing.

According to Paul Andrews, the Senior Partner of Oaktec, they have good experience with hybrid cars and they even won Honda Insight in F1000 Class A Championship, 2006. Going further he says that extracting a race winning performance from a hybrid vehicle is a tough exercise but Lotus' engineering expertise and skill in this field will be of assistance to them. H

e informs that on 28th September Honda Civic Hybrid would be racing at Dunlop Max Sport Cup at Rockingham circuit for the first time. Phil Barker, chief Engineer of Hybrid and Electric Vehicle technologies group is of the view that despite going Green, the hybrid cars can match the performance of other cars.

He says that these cars are proven on the roads and the same success has to be achieved on the race track and for that some technological modification should be made which will include amendment to the electrical specification and control system.

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