No commercially popular cars achieve greater than 55 MPG on average, you can check up on fuelly.com to see what kind of vehicle fuel economies people are realizing in the real world!
The 350w ACG alternator starter mild hybrid electrical system design results in instantaneous engine starts without any cranking associated with traditional starter systems. The high wattage motor generator shares the engines crank, providing IMA like system architecture that is more efficient, compact, technologically dense. The LiFe-PO4 12v battery stores energy where the OEM SLA battery was once installed. Its not a Space-X Falcon 9, but the PCX achieves 13 HP & 11 ft lbs of Torque from its 153cc liquid cooled single with fuel injection.
Hot gases exit the exhaust pipe, thereby producing a gas particle stream of chemicals, primarily CO2, H20 with trace amounts of pollutants like NOX and tiny carbon particulates made of burning hydrocarbon soot that resulting from the regular pump gasoline burning with air in the square bore compression system of the engine. The PCX-150 extracts mechanical energy from the chemical energy of the gasoline using the principle of combustion.
Burning fuel in a rocket engine, jet engine or piston engine always results in heat, pressure, hot gasses & pollutants. At ~97mpg average results in the production of 56g of CO2/km (g/km CO2) in the exhaust stream, which passes by a 3 way catalytic clean air converter which nullifies toxins into non-toxic gases at an operating temperatures of ~700 deg F. The Hot exhaust exiting the scooter has a distinctive smell, indicative of the precision engineering that Honda used to produce this machine. Its a relatively clean burning machine, with very clean emissions once it achieves full operating temperature.
While the 97mpg 2013 PCX-150 in red makes a point & shoot automatic machine that both Meg & I have been enjoying for the last 3000 miles, its the Honda CR-z ex in 6sp manual that has me hybrid visual dreaming to the day when I get to resume using our 2014 model (ODO 12,300mi) regularly ^^ For now Toby the 93 Subaru Legacy (ODO 181,800mi) & Astro the 05 Toyota Prius (ODO 126,200) mi are the automatic vehicle we utilize daily, yielding ~24.5 & ~46.4 MPG respectively.
Here are some of the early design sketches for the CR-Z produced before 2010 by the chief designers of the CR-Z.
Hybrid Power IMA Engine Architecture
Optimizing the engine for the shape+ improving efficiency of the intake
Philosophies of the CR-Z Design
The first generation of CR-Z were powered by a 1.499L (91 cu in) SOHC LEA inline 4 cylinder engine equipped with VTEC and 10 KW crank mounted IMA motor assist + energy recovery generator. The 2010-12 Models were upgraded in the 2013MY with engine tuning & a larger 15KW IMA motor system rendering a net system total power output of 130HP & 140lb*ft Torque vs 122HP & 128lb*ft Torque, +8HP +12 Torque : early peak torque at 1000-1500rpm, making the small 4 banger engine feel torque strong like a diesel engine at low RPM's. Peak power at 6000 RPM, the OEM model utilized a Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack while the 2013+ upgraded model got a higher voltage lithium ion battery.
Without the IMA system peak power & torque would decrease along with lower fuel economy in the 28-35MPG range. With 35-46MPG the IMA system also boosts early torque by 300%, making the small engine more usable in the real world. Early torque with electric assists makes start and stop traffic much cleaner by reducing exhaust emissions. The IMA motor generator is able to capture power from the crank in many different dynamic conditions, allowing for start stop, torque boost at lower RPM, energy recovery in many driving modes, the generator enables the drivetrain to capture kinetic energy into the chemical energy storage batteries. Our 2014 CRZ uses a 144v lithium ion battery to absorb or produce energy to or from the 15KW IMA motor generator. Earlier models uses a nickel metal hydride battery pack with a less powerful 10KW IMA motor generator.
Our 2014 CR-Z achieves 39MPG with intermediate spirited driving, ranging between 46MPG in eco mode at 50mph on the highway and very careful gentle in city driving, down to about 35MPG with Sport Mode engaged playing at 70mpg +- speeds on the highway with spirited in town sport driving worse case. I am averaging about 39mpg over the first 12,800mi of operation. Its not a sports car but produces lots of driving fun with a nice stereo system, amazing 6sp setup, and sport mode performance that feels snappy & spirited, not fast, fun. It has a very pure & focus fun car feel with a cockpit layout that encourages fun driving. Surprising nimble & tight handling reminds me of the Mazda Miata, with a high tech traditional Honda feeling that reminds me of ASIMO, though I named our CRZ Winston.
I think the designers at Honda nailed the CR-z, and find it sad that more people did not see the same light. Perhaps people like me who did not get a CR-z and are waiting for something with greater electromotive evolution, not to dimmish or take away from the Lithium Ion IMA setup in the CR-z, which is exceptionally lightweight & compacts, giving the small CR-z remarkable interior utility volume, useful space to move people & stuff.
The team that developed the CR-z were focused on building something fun and affordable with clean emissions that would appeal to a new and perhaps one of the last generations of "drivers": people born before the year 2000. Younger people are not interested in cars, in buying cars, in driving; they are more interested in smartphones, snapchat, self driving vehicles, streaming music & movies, subscription everything, software as a service, even Adobe Photoshop going the way of subscription software as a service.
If you look at the dash cluster, all the controls are positions to be as close to the driver as possible. The user input or UI interface looks like Honda combined game controllers, remote controls for portable electronics and car dashboard designs into console style layout that is geometrically oriented towards easy driver control. They claim that goal was to create the purest driving experience possible, a truly unique feel of efficient fun driving that cannot be found elsewhere in the automotive world.
The CR-z platform takes the second generation Honda Insight design base minus about 600lbs of mass, owing largely to the compact real dimensions of the CR-z. In Japan the CR-z is a 4 person vehicle, in the USA the rear seat is replaced by cargo holders due to the size differences between the average US driver and average Japanese driver. While many cars have become bigger & bigger, Honda knew that people like me are not interested in ever larger vehicle platforms.
When Meg & I first looked at a CR-z in first person we were both struck by how small it seemed from the outside. Fortunately due to extremely cleaver design work, the inside of CR-z provides a surprising amount of interior volume, giving good room for the driver and passenger & enough utility storage space in the rear to move a surprising amount of stuff. I believe it is possible to put a twin size blow up mattress in the back, a test I have yet to perform.
The IMA system developed by Honda was first applied to the 1999 Honda Insight. The System in our 2014 Honda CR-z is a 6th generation revision of this concept & design. IMA stands for integrated motor assist. Similar to the crank mounted ACG starter alternator of our PCX-150, a pancake electric motor generator is attached to the crank, injecting and extracting power from the drivetrain ahead of the gearbox, a short shifting modern marvel 6 speed manual in the case of our CR-z, though an optional CVT tranny was available for a price premium. I think its super cool that the CR-z shipped stock with a 6 speed manual, something that speaks to the drivers Honda was thinking about when designing the CR-z.
IMA represents a half way point of hybridization towards the future full realization of electromotive technology. Lets start with understanding why hybrids are an in-between step towards automakers full electrification.
The CR-z runs on regular pump gas just like our Toyota Prius, no premium fuel required, nor does the use of premium fuel provide any benefits. Actually the standard grade gas contains more energy. In less than 5 minutes you can add enough gasoline to these hybrids to go more than 400 miles. Honda & Toyota both made good profit margins on the 05 Prius and 14 CR-Z, more than Toyota made on the original Prius and more than Honda Made on the Fit or Insight. The Prius & CR-z both represent the actualization of the automakers design intents, to build a quality product that makes customers happy while returning a good profit margin for the automaker, distributor and dealers. This means that Honda & Toyota put a lot of thought into how to give you just enough with technologies they control, to give you just the right amount of materials & thought to meet and hopefully exceed your vehicular expectations. Customers are a tough judge of products. The CR-z gets downplayed in the automotive journalism articles because of its low power output, only good fuel economy, and cramped dimensions. They fail to see the virtues of small, clean, fun, high tech, interesting, pure driving, more like that of a gokart. I have visions of kart racing that cause me to ponder removing the inside cosmetic bits of the CR-Z, turning into a more audacious bit of kit, better through weight reduction. Less is not always more if you value less NVH, not that noise, vibration or harshness are widely appreciated as vehicular attributes.
Price vs Range EV
Electric cars in the Sub $30K price range cannot go 400 mi per charge. Actually there is not a single mass produced electric vehicle today that can go more than 350mi, and Tesla is the only vendor moving thousands of Model S/X units at a base price of $75K and up. Battery energy storage system that can give a substantial single charge range cost more than the vehicles I normally buy. As Elon Musk noted, to make the upcoming Model 3 affordable while also giving it 200+ miles per charge, Tesla was going to have to produce 2170 lithium ion batteries in the Gigafactory by the billion to bring the costs of each Model 3 battery pack down low enough to make the production of said vehicle profitable while also commercialize the Model 3 at affordable price points that will actually sell in good volumes. Similarly the Tesla Power Wall needs cheaper lithium ion storage battery, something that can only be achieved by the high volume production techniques employed at the Gigafactory.
Lithium Ion Limitation
Lithium Ion batteries are box of compromises. They are electrochemically and thermally fragile, prone to fading rapidly if stored fully charged, prone to breaking down faster if charged quickly or discharged at high rates, while they also break down more rapidly at high temperatures. The Galaxy Note 7, Boeing Dreamliner 787 and countless hover-boards that caught fire provide ample examples of how flawed lithium ion batteries are in terms of their propensity to catch fire if improperly manufactured or operated in extreme conditions. Sadly, the real world contains a lot of extreme conditions. Parking a black car in a sun lit parking lot during the summer can result in deadly cabin temperatures that can cook animals and small humans to death if the windows are not rolled down to vent the accumulated solar energy, so hot that the interior temperatures of a black dashboard in direct sun can cook your phone to death, both the logic board and battery damaged by exceedingly high surface temperatures of dark dashboard materials in direct high intensity sun with summer peak ambient temperatures. The inside of a car in direct sun can become dangerously hot for your children, pets & electronic. Temperatures higher than 160 def F damage many things. The auto industry refers to the cabin of a vehicle as the greenhouse owning unto the prevalence of windows mounted in a metal framework similar to an actual greenhouse. Cars accumulate solar thermal energy just like a green house. Dark cars can accumulate up to 10 deg F more heat in direct sun. So in the case of a lithium ion electric vehicle parked in the sun, all that heat is going to cook the battery faster, causing the expensive hybrid or electric drive train storage battery to die more quickly. High temperatures can accelerate the break down of lithium ion batteries by 400% or more. Tesla goes to the trouble of liquid cooling the Tesla Model S battery to minimize thermal gradients to prolong the functional life of the Model S battery pack.
Fully Charing DAMAGES Lithium Ion batteries!
Fully charging lithium ion batteries harms the cells by bending the anode and cathode with shrink swell fatigue, like like bending a paper clip all the way one way then all the way the other way. Fast charing lithium cells causes damage by heating the electrolyte, which expands thereby pushing on the anode and cathode in a way that causing mechanical stresses. Fully discharging a lithium ion harms the battery by forcing the chemical reactants all the way towards products, a reaction trend that cannot be fully undone. Each time a lithium ion cell is drive to bellow 3% state of charge, permanate damage to the cell occurs. In cold temperatures lithium ion batteries cannot produce current effectively like they can around room temperature. Tesla employs a heater system to warm chilled batteries to improve the electrical performance of Model S's batteries operating in colder climates like Norway, a country where the Model S and most electric cars enjoy unparalleled per capital popularity.
Oil Rich European EV Popularity
While Norway is the Middle East of Crude Oil for most of western Europe, most people in Norway are actually very interested in electric vehicles. Perhaps this is totally unsurprising if you study the affluent nature of Norwegian society where wealthy and prosperity is shared on a scale never previously seen. In Japan things could not be more different.
In Japan the difference between the rich and poor continue to increase with an aging population and few new children being born. The inverted population pyramid in Japan is paving the way for the development of humanoid assistant robots from Honda, Toyota and Fujitsu.
A.I Robots & Self Driving Vehicles
Robots are the real world mechanical extension of information technology that started in computers. With emergent artificially intelligence we will be seeing cars that drive themselves becoming popular as new models by 2030. Countless examples of human pilot errors resulting in deadly car accidents provide the impetus to phase out human driving.
Human Driver Failures Extraordinary in Scope & Type
Human drivers are subject to have a stroke, being tired, distracted, having low driving skills, and a myriad of other control defects and disadvantage that machines will never suffer from. When a self driving car makes a mistake the mistake is uploaded to all other self driving cars that learn as a fleet through a wireless network like 4G, in an endless cycle of ongoing system component optimization, eventually self driving cars will become hundreds of times safer than human pilots while also using less fuel and producing less emissions or achieving greater single charge range in electric vehicle platforms. Autopilot is the future of transportation. Your car will become smarter over time with learning autopilot. Tesla is already pioneering the way with Software update 8.0 for the Model S with early forms of commercialized self driving features that are not fully perfected. Its still the wild west for autopilot & self driving cars, but the convergence of information technology on the automotive sector is inevitable. Information technology is driving increasingly optimized vehicle designs, with computer aided engineering enabling system integration of more than 80 computers in newer cars. Modern luxury cars actually have an A.I. learning control system in 8-9-10 speed automatic transmissions. We can see many luxury cars from Europe equipped with 70 or more networked micro-computers, computers like the VCM or vehicle control module than enable the OBDII buss to function.
The electrification of vehicles started before gasoline engines were well perfected. The best early cars were fully electric, utilizing strong durable 20 year rechargeable Nickel Iron batteries. Sadly these early electric cars were slow with low single charge range and slow recharging. Gasoline engines succeeded because they enabled faster vehicles with more range of larger sizes to cover more distance with less time. Faster means cheaper, even though the high costs of tail pipe emissions are yet to be fully appreciated, externalities like cancer & climate change exist because the gasoline engine and fossil fuel won the early automotive power platform race, but there is a better way, fully electric.
The electrification of automobiles enabled electric start, something that saved the arms of legs of people were hand cranking early gasoline engines. Fuel standards were so bad that we now have unleaded gasoline because the oil companies were previously adding tetraethyl lead as an antiknock agent in low quality low octane gasolines emblematic of the early days of liquid fossil fuels. Today high quality gasoline is widely available, along with super low emission vehicles that some time even get a AT-PZEV or Advanced Technology - Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle declaration of emissions classification, like our Prius & CRZ.
Vehicle emissions like tire & break dust will not be solved with electric vehicles. Electric vehicles produce far less brake dust because they store power that would normally be wasted by the friction braking metal dust production system of a conventional vehicle. Brake energy recovery enables hybrid cars to go further with less fuel & lower emissions.