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LA show: Honda hits eco high note with Jazz EV

Fitness regime: Known as the Fit EV overseas, the electrified Jazz is claimed to have a driving range of up to 160km, providing the Sport mode is left alone.

Honda unveils all-electric Jazz and platform for mid-size sedan plug-in hybrid

Honda logo19 Nov 2010

By TERRY MARTIN

FOUR months after revealing plans to introduce a raft of new eco models and green technologies, including a full-electric vehicle and a hybrid system for larger vehicles, Honda has used this week’s Los Angeles auto show to demonstrate its progress in the form of an all-electric Jazz and the platform underpinning a forthcoming mid-size plug-in hybrid sedan.

The Japanese manufacturer has reconfirmed that the Jazz EV – known as the Fit in the US – is due to reach showrooms in both its domestic market and the US in 2012, and that the plug-in hybrid medium car, which could be sold under the Accord nameplate, will also debut in 2012.

As GoAuto has reported, Honda Australia is keen to secure both vehicles – and others, such as the Jazz hybrid shown at the Paris motor show in September – pending availability for this market, bolstering an eco-car line-up which includes the current Civic hybrid, this month’s long-anticipated Insight hybrid and next year’s CR-Z sport hybrid.

15 center imageFrom top: Honda Jazz EV interior, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight, Honda CR-Z, Honda plug-in hybrid platform.

The Jazz EV would hand Honda a competitor in the burgeoning EV segment in Australia, rivalling the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf (to name but two), while the plug-in hybrid would likely compete with the forthcoming 2012 Holden Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-In, despite these models being built off smaller platforms.

Technical details for the Jazz EV – which was described as a concept in LA – are thin on the ground, but Honda has confirmed that the five-door, five-seat hatch will use a lithium-ion battery and a high-density coaxial electric motor derived from its FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle.

The company claims the light EV will have a top speed of 145km/h and an estimated driving range of 160km, based on the US EPA LA4 city cycle (or 112km with the EPA’s adjustment factor applied).

It will also have three driving modes adapted from the CR-Z which allows the driver to switch between normal, economy and sport settings to either maximise efficiency or improve acceleration.

Honda claims the ‘Econ’ mode can increase the ‘practical’ driving range by as much as 17 per cent compared to the normal mode, or by 25 per cent compared to driving in Sport – a mode that is said to generate performance “similar to a vehicle equipped with a 2.0-litre petrol engine”.

Battery recharging is claimed to take less than six hours when using a 240-volt power outlet, or around twice that long when using a 120-volt supply.

Onboard displays encouraging the driver to shut off the air-conditioning and other accessories to conserve battery power have also been developed for the Jazz EV, while onboard technology will enable high levels of interactivity between driver and vehicle.

The latter includes the ability to view the state of battery charge or initiate charging while away from the vehicle, and to activate the air-conditioning – even when connected to the grid – to reduce drain on the battery at start-up.

The connectivity system will also enable owners to set charging reminders, locate public charge stations, optimise utility rates and receive 24-hour roadside assistance.

The LA show car is finished in a ‘deep clear blue pearl’ exterior paint and is fitted with five-spoke alloy wheels with blue inserts. Other unique features compared to the regular Jazz include LED headlights, clear LED tail-lights, a chrome front fascia, aerodynamic bumper and EV decals.

In addition to the unique instruments, the cabin is trimmed in a grey bio-fabric.

Meanwhile, the front-drive mid-size sedan plug-in hybrid platform will use Honda’s next-generation hybrid system that features a lithium-ion battery, 120kW electric motor, an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-litre four-cylinder i-VTEC petrol engine and an electric continuously variable transmission (dubbed E-CVT).

The system automatically moves through three driving modes: all-electric, petrol-electric and ‘engine direct-drive’, with the latter using only the engine to drive the front wheels “for more efficient high-speed cruising”.

In addition to plugging in through a power socket or charge station, the hybrid system will have regenerative braking in order to recharge the battery.

Honda claims the vehicle will be able to run in all-electric mode from 16-24km, while its top speed will be limited to 100km/h. A full recharge will take up to 1.5 hours on a 240-volt power supply, or up to 2.5 hours using a 120-volt outlet.

Honda Motor Co president and CEO Takanobu Ito said the company’s “long history with electromotive technologies has enabled us to understand customer requirements”.

“In Honda’s view, an electric vehicle must offer great utility and be fun to drive. Fit EV’s urban commuting capability will be a perfect addition to the full-function mobility of the plug-in hybrid and FCX Clarity fuel-cell electric vehicle,” he said.

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