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LA show: Honda’s Jazz EV ready to roll

Electric blue: American Honda executive vice-president of sales John Mendel with the Fit/Jazz EV at the LA Auto Show.

Honda unveils production version of electric light car ahead of mid-2012 US launch

Honda logo17 Nov 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

HONDA has revealed the production version of its Jazz EV at this week’s Los Angeles auto show, its first full-electric model that will be available for leasing in the US from mid-2012.

Honda Australia this week restated its position that it has no plans to introduce the all-electric light car – known as the Fit EV in the US – despite initial interest when the concept was shown in LA 12 months ago.

However, as GoAuto has reported, the company is keen to offer the petrol-electric hybrid version of the Jazz, which with its extended range is considered a more suitable vehicle for the Australian market.

Those reservations are not apparent in the US, where Honda will begin leasing the battery-powered hatch to customers in California and Oregon in the northern hemisphere summer, expanding to six east coast markets in early 2013.

American Honda Motor will sell the car for a recommended retail price of $US36,625, with an estimated lease of $US399 a month.

Production is geared towards 1100 EVs hitting US roads over the next three years.

Honda said the Fit/Jazz EV is “designed to meet the needs of an average urban commuter”, offering an estimated driving range of 198km on a single charge using the US EPA city cycle test method, although the Japanese manufacturer also quotes a combined-cycle city/highway EV range of 122km.

15 center imagePower comes from a Toshiba-sourced 20kWh lithium-ion battery and a 92kW high-density coaxial electric motor derived from the FCX Clarity fuel-cell electric vehicle.

Honda claims the motor delivers “excellent efficiency and power while remaining quiet at high speeds”.

Performance and range also depend on the application of a three-mode electric drive system, which allows the driver to switch between Econ, Normal and Sport settings to “change the driving experience to maximise efficiency or improve acceleration”.

Adapted from the CR-Z hybrid, which has its long-anticipated launch in Australia next week, the three-mode system enables the “practical” driving range, according to Honda, to increase by up to 17 per cent when in Econ mode compared to Normal, while acceleration improves “significantly” when in Sport mode.

Maximum power output for the vehicle is 100kW.

Other energy-saving measures on the car include a “highly efficient” electric air-conditioning system and a new regenerative braking system. Driver “coaching” features such as a power meter that shows optimal driving behaviour are also onboard.

A 6.6kW 32-amp charger is included in the package, enabling a full recharge in as little as three hours with a 240-volt charger.

A standard telematics system allows the owner to remotely monitor – via smartphone, PC or interactive remote – the vehicle’s state of charge, to initiate charging and perform “preconditioning” tasks while still connected to the grid (rather than drawing on the battery when driving), such as turning on the air-con or heating prior to a journey.

Honda said the mobile app and website also offer the ability to set charging notifications and alerts to optimise charging times based on varying utility rates, and provide access to 24-hour roadside assistance.

Furthermore, the EV will come equipped with standard satellite-navigation that assists with locating public charging stations and provides updated traffic information.

Exterior dimensions of the Fit/Jazz EV are identical to the petrol-powered versions, although the cabin has slightly higher seating positions to accommodate the under-floor battery.

The seats are trimmed in “bio-fabric” and the dash features EV-specific readouts showing battery state of charge, usage and driving range – with the colour switching between green, white or red, depending on the driving mode selected.

At launch, the electric hatch will be available only in ‘Reflection Blue Pearl’ exterior paintwork, while further distinguishing its eco status are EV badges on the rear, decals down the side and a chrome front fascia seen on other ‘green’ Honda models like the FCX and the Insight hybrid.

Unique five-spoke alloy wheels and a rear spoiler are also included.

American Honda executive vice-president of sales John Mendel described the all-electric light car as “the next critical step in Honda’s portfolio approach to alternative-fuelled vehicles”.

“There is no other auto-maker on the planet whose spirit is more deeply invested in the effort to realise a cleaner, more energy-efficient and ultimately more sustainable transportation future than Honda,” he said.

Using the same Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) petrol-electric drive system as the Insight, the hybrid version of the Jazz combines a 65kW/121Nm 1.3-litre i-VTEC engine with a 10kW/78Nm electric motor (for total outputs of 75kW and 199Nm), driving the front wheels through a CVT transmission and offering outstanding fuel economy of just 3.3L/100km.

Its CO2 emissions are also extremely low at 77g/km.

Former Honda Australia senior director Lindsay Smalley told GoAuto at the Australian International Motor Show in July that the full electric version of the Jazz, which was shown in near-production concept form at the Geneva motor show in March, was not on the agenda for Australia and that electric vehicles had “very, very limited application in a market like Australia”.

“(Jazz) hybrid gives you much more flexibility from a distance point of view, not running out of battery power halfway down the Monash Freeway or in the Burnley Tunnel,” he said.

“Any solution for that type of transport needs to have some flexibility and, if it’s locked into a finite battery charge period, I don’t see that having sufficient flexibility within the context of our market.”

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