Honda has two more hybrids coming, expect more from other manufacturers soon


Ready for more hybrid vehicles? Sure, why not, right? Honda is set to release two new hybrid vehicles next year: the CR-Z and Fit/Jazz. Both should come equipped with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system and further demonstrates that hybrid technology will soon be a standard option on most vehicles.

There isn’t anything real exciting about either of these two new cars besides the hybrid option. The CR-Z will be a standard fastback coupe while the Fit is a wannabe mini-minivan. (ask Biggs, he has one) But both small cars should get a boost in MPG with the hybrid system.

crz2Honda, just like every other major manufacturer, has been developing hybrid technology in personal vehicles since the 90’s. The IMA system has probably progressed enough that it can finally be fitted onto more and more platforms meaning that soon it might become a standard option.

Fundamentally hybrids aren’t that difficult. They just employ a battery-powered electric motor to assist the gasoline engine under certain loads. The electronic acceleration assistance can make for speedy launches and improved fuel economy. Many of the previous issues like battery size and jerky transitions between the motor and engine have been worked out by manufacturers so be prepared to see a lot more hybrid vehicles.

Now, I’m not saying all of these new hybrids, including the two new models released from Honda, will put up Prius-type numbers. Oh no, Honda previously installed an older IMA system in the Accord but Consumer Reports only found it to help by 1 or 2 MPG. But having the hybrid systems installed is a great short-term solution to reach the high CAFE standards.

crz3Congress put the bar high with the new MPG guidelines. By 2011 the majority of new cars will have to reach 30.2 MPG verses today’s standard of 27.5. That 2.7 MPG jump is a big hurdle and hybrid technology is one of the least expensive ways to reach it. Most automakers already have a developed hybrid platform, so now the task is to build it into more vehicles to bump up the average.

We’re finally reaching a plateau in next-gen vehicle purpalson systems; at least for a while. Hybrid is here to stay while extended range plug-ins like the Volt and Fisker Karma test the market. Soon, a hybrid system will be just another box to check on the new car buying sheet just like AC and satellite radio.