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Honda City’s New eHEV Powertrain Explained

The Honda City Hybrid (e:HEV) has finally been revealed in India and is even available for pre-launch bookings. During the unveiling of the sedan, the Japanese carmaker emphasized a lot what the technology within the new Hybrid offering is and how cutting edge it is, but let’s be honest, for most of us common folks all the tech jargon went straight over our heads. Fret not, because this article is meant to help you understand all you need to know about the technology within the new Honda City e:HEV in “Shudh Simple Bhasha.”

What makes up that Honda eHEV powertrain?

Unlike conventional ICE vehicles that have an engine and a transmission, the Honda City e:HEV works a little differently. Parts of the City’s powertrain include:

  • A 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder, Atkinson Cycle i-VTEC Petrol engine 
  • Two electric motors (one acts as a generator, the other one acts as a traction motor)
  • A small 0.784 kWh lithium-ion battery
  • Engine linked direct coupling clutch
  • e-CVT transmission (fixed ratio gearbox)
  • A Power Control Unit

Also Read: Honda City e:HEV Production Begins; Launch In May 2022

How are they all connected?

The connection between each part is quite simple and you can see it in the image attached below. Honda calls it the i-MMD (intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) engine. That said, it has three modes of driving: PURE ELECTRIC DRIVE MODE, HYBRID DRIVE MODE, and ENGINE DRIVE MODE, along with RENEGRATIVE BRAKING mode during deceleration.

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  • The Electric motor connected with the 1.5-liter petrol engine acts as a generator. The function of the generator is to act as a starter motor and automatically stop the car if it comes to a halt and the foot is off the pedal, and then start the moto again once the pedal is pressed. This technology is almost like the mild-hybrid technology used in Maruti Suzuki cars like Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, XL6, etc.
  • The electric motor connected to the battery acts as a traction motor, which means it is responsible for driving the car in its pure EV mode when the car is running solely on the battery.
  • 1.5L Atkinson cycle petrol engine is responsible for running the car at high speeds and in the mild-hybrid driving mode.
  • The 0.784 kWh battery Pack of the City Hybrid is what gives it its hybrid capabilities. Although extremely small in capacity, it is used during those crucial moments most responsible for decreased fuel efficiency like stop ‘n go traffic and leads to saving copious amounts of fuel. 
  • Power Control Unit ensures seamless and automatic switching between the drive modes based on various driving situations.
  • It is worth noting that the powertrain uses an electronic CVT transmission system for the standard power delivery with a clutch that comes attached to the petrol engine.

Also Read: Honda And General Motors (GM) To Co-develop Electric Vehicles

Driving Modes (Where all the Hybrid Technology magic happens)

Honda City e:HEV Driving Modes Explained
Honda City e:HEV Driving Modes Explained

As mentioned above, the Honda City e:HEV gets three driving modes- Pure EV, Engine Drive, and Hybrid Drive.

  1. Pure EV Drive: In this mode, the car is powered solely by the battery and traction motor. Due to the extremely small battery size, the speed is limited to 40kmph, and it is mostly used during slow speeds and start/stop heavy traffic moments. 
  2. Hybrid Drive: The hybrid mode comes into action when the car reaches a certain high speed (above 40kmph) or if the battery capacity is lesser than 30%. In this mode, the car is driven on both the engine and battery power. If the vehicle speed is between 40-80kmph, the electric motor performs most of the job, with the petrol engine coming into play whenever required such as during overtaking, sudden acceleration, etc. On the other hand, if the vehicle’s speed is between 80-120kmph then the petrol engine will take care of the propulsion function for the majority of the time and the electric motor will assist whenever needed. Above 120kmph, both the engine and traction motor will work in full hybrid mode till you max it out at 176kmph.  
  3. Engine Drive: As mentioned above, this mode is going to be leveraged during those high-speed moments when you’re on the highway.

The best part about these modes is that you do not have to manually select any of these. The Honda City Hybrid is smart enough to decide which mode is the best and will save the most fuel. So, it leverages the battery in those rough stop-n’ go traffic with its pure EV mode, and then switches to Hybrid automatically, giving you maximum fuel efficiency, all the while recharging the battery.

Honda says that the City e:HEV will offer a claimed fuel efficiency figure of 26.5kpl, making it the most efficient car in its class.