India’s potential plan to phase out petrol- and diesel-powered cars and sell only electric cars by 2030 must include hybrid technology (internal combustion engine plus electric motor), which, globally, is considered the stepping stone to full electric. Among other improvements, hybrid cars have far better fuel economy than conventional internal combustion engine cars that we have in India. We try and understand the technology by driving the hybrid models of the popular Honda Jazz and City, called the Fit and Grace, respectively, in Japan.
Honda Grace, aka City
The Grace sedan, called the City in India, is equipped with the ‘Sport Hybrid’ i-DCT (Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive) technology, which is Honda’s lightweight and compact one-motor hybrid system suited for small-sized vehicles.
This technology combines the 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle i-VTEC petrol engine, 7-speed DCT with built-in high-output motor, and the IPU (intelligent power unit) with a built-in lithium-ion battery. It enables the driver to start the car in
EV mode, realising both outstanding fuel economy and dynamic driving performance.
This technology also adopts an electric servo brake system that increases electrical regenerative efficiency and a fully-electric compressor that reduces engine load, improving the fuel economy. In fact, Honda claims that with this powertrain, the Grace returns an outstanding mileage of 34.4kpl, which is the best among all hybrid sedans in Japan. This is also almost double the mileage of the petrol model of the City sedan (17.4kpl) that Honda sells in India. The cabin of the Grace hybrid is surprisingly quiet, as initially it runs only on electric motor. But if you fully press the accelerator, both the electric motor and petrol engine combine to give you a powerful driving performance. The total power produced is 139.5PS—110PS by the engine and 29.5PS by the motor. The torque, or pulling power, is a massive 294Nm—134Nm by the engine and 160Nm by the motor. These figures are also far higher than those produced by the India-made City (119PS and 145Nm).
Driving too gets far easier, courtesy the 7-speed DCT. Also, the i-DCD automatically changes to three driving modes by engaging and disengaging the engine and motor depending on driving situations. The three driving modes are the EV Drive Mode for motor-only driving, the Hybrid Drive Mode for both engine and motor driving, and the Engine Drive Mode for engine-only driving. Lastly, even though the Grace is a mid-size sedan, the cabin space for rear-seat occupants comes close to that of the Accord Hybrid, thanks to smart packaging.
Honda Fit, aka Jazz
The technical specifications of the Fit hybrid are similar to the Grace hybrid. However, because the Fit hybrid is a lighter car, it returns even better fuel economy of 36.4kpl, which is the highest in Japan for a hybrid vehicle. This is also almost double the mileage of the petrol model of the Jazz (18.7kpl) that Honda sells in India. Such cars prove that hybrid technology is the stepping stone to full electric. We must also keep in mind that, in an electric vehicle, if the initial source of electricity is coal, you are burning coal to run your car. In a hybrid vehicle, you are burning petrol, but in a far, far more efficient manner.
The all-new Discovery is in India
On Saturday, Land Rover launched the 5th generation Discovery in India with prices starting from Rs 71.38 lakh (ex-showroom). Available in two powertrain options, the 3.0-litre diesel 190 kW and 3.0-litre petrol 250 kW, the all-new Discovery is Land Rover’s most versatile seven-seater SUV yet. It gets a permanent four-wheel drive system with a choice of a single speed transfer box for optimal on-road conditions or a two-speed box for challenging conditions, and advanced driver aids like terrain response 2, lane-keep assist, driver condition monitor, and adaptive cruise control with queue assist and park assist.