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Honda hybrid cars – combining performance and efficiency

4 July 2012, by Paul Clarke

Oaktec Honda Insight Hybrid Rally Car-f.jpg

Motorists may appreciate that Honda hybrid cars offer low running costs, but what many people may not know is that a Honda hybrid car has won a series of rallies as well as winning a fuel economy competition.

The Honda Insight hybrid rally car

The current Honda hybrid car range includes the Insight, Jazz and CR-Z. All of these models offer increased levels of efficiency compared to conventional petrol cars. The current Insight family hatchback model was preceded by the original Honda Insight, which was a two-seat coupe. It is this car that has been developed into a rally car by motorsport engineering company Oaktec (the same team also competes in a Honda Civic hybrid rally car).

The Honda Insight eco car competed in the Formula 1000 rally championship and it dominated the 2011 series, with two wins and a second place from the first three rounds, beating a field of conventional rally cars to gain a 19 point championship lead after just three rallies. This resulted in calls for the hybrid Honda to be banned from the championship because it was too fast.

Yet the same car entered the 2011 RAC Future Car Challenge, an event that measured the efficiency of a range of cars during a drive from Brighton to London, and the Honda Insight won the hybrid class, using just 29.8 kWh of energy consumption over the 60 mile route, equating to over 90mpg, beating current production hybrid models from other manufacturers.

There is no other car to our knowledge that can claim to have won its class in rallies and also won its class in a fuel economy event. This shows that the Honda hybrid system can deliver performance and economy.

The Honda hybrid system

Honda’s hybrid technology is featured in the brand’s current line-up of eco cars (today’s compact Honda CR-Z hybrid sports coupe is more of a spiritual successor to the original Insight ). Hybrid technology is energy efficient because it combines a petrol engine and an electric motor. A Honda hybrid operates primarily on the petrol engine, but uses the electric motor to assist the engine. The electric motor is powered by a battery, which is recharged by the energy generated by the car when it brakes.

The Honda hybrid system, although being a simple, lightweight, cost-effective solution, still allows the car to reduce its dependence on petrol power, by providing electric energy to supplement the petrol engine. Thanks to its hybrid technology, Honda can be confident in claiming that it offers some of the leading low emission cars in class.

The original Honda Insight hybrid remained the lowest emission car on sale in the UK for many years , during a period when many other manufacturers said that hybrid cars weren’t a viable option. However today all that has changed as hybrid cars have proven to be a very attractive option to consumers, thanks to hybrids being amongst the most efficient green cars on sale, and helping to provide real cost savings for motorists.

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