Honda’s all-new HR-V is the latest model to join the e:HEV hybrid family, going alongside the CR-V and Jazz in being the only models available with a hybrid power train. With no need to plug-in in this hybrid, the HR-V is suitable for every driving situation. This model combines the responsive performance and efficiency of an electric vehicle, but with the usability and flexibility of a traditional car with a combustion engine. But what is it that sets Honda Hybrids apart from the rest?
Honda’s advanced e:HEV hybrid powertrain offers drivers a unique full hybrid performance and is currently winning acclaim across Europe as it combines strong performance, but with high levels of real-world efficiency and refinement. The system consists of two compact, powerful electric motors that work alongside an Atkinson-cycle 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC petrol engine, a lithium-ion battery, and an innovative fixed-gear transmission coupled to an intelligent power control unit.
The e:HEV powertrain has already proved to produce a class-best ratio of fuel economy to acceleration in the Jazz, and its applications in the HR-V utilises a similar arrangement for equally impressive efficiency. The battery has also been revised to account for the HR-V’s larger size and to allow greater storage of electric power. Even with the larger battery size, the interior of the HR-V has not been compromised thanks to clever engineering.
What sets the e:HEV hybrid system apart is the three drive modes that seamlessly interchange to ensure optimum performance of each component for both urban and motorway driving. The intelligent electronic control unit within the HR-V automatically and constantly cycles between electric drive, hybrid drive, or engine drive depending on which is more fuel-efficient for that specific situation. For example, when driving at constant speeds on the motorway, the system operates on engine drive because that will be the most fuel-efficient.
There is also a ‘Sport’ mode which can be activated via the drive selector, allowing for sharper throttle response, whilst ‘Econ’ mode will adjust the air conditioning system and throttle response for an emphasis on fuel efficiency. In addition to the above, there is a ‘Normal’ mode where the car is best balanced between both and can switch across all driving modes through a switch.
If you want to opt for an increased EV-like experience, HR-V owners can select B-range from the transmission which will offer selectable levels of energy recovery when coasting or braking. The level of energy recovery and the resulting strength of the deceleration effect can be substantially increased over the regular D-range, by using the paddles behind the steering wheel
This transfer between drive modes is virtually unnoticeable by drivers and rather than using a conventional power split system with a planetary gearbox which causes a high level of friction, the fixed-gear transmission creates much less resistance through minimised gearing, ultimately consuming less energy when driving purely electric. Due to this, Honda’s highly efficient system achieves a higher ratio of accumulated electric drive time when driving in cities than other hybrids on sale today.
By using engineering expertise from its motorsport team, Honda’s race-winning Formula 1 Hybrid Power Unit programme has inspired the technology in the new e:HEV hybrid system in order to deliver unrivaled levels of energy efficiency on the road. As a result, the new e:HEV hybrid HR-V offers exceptional efficiency and power output in a wide range of driving conditions.
Back in 1999, Honda Insight established Honda as the world leader in hybrid technology and was the first hybrid model from any manufacturer to be sold into Europe. This hybrid introduced the Integrated Motor Assist system which relied mainly on the engine but called upon the electric motor assistance and brake energy recuperation when the car required enhanced acceleration and reduced fuel consumption. Honda has worked to develop its hybrid technology over the years and the new advanced two-motor e:HEV system is now in the Jazz, CR-V and of course, the all-new HR-V hybrid.