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Captain Hybrid
Slideshow: Honda Rolls Out 50-MPG Hybrid
10/7/2013

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Honda's 2014 Accord hybrid will offer 50 mpg city, 45 mpg highway, and 47 combined. Manufacturer's suggested retail price starts at $29,155.   (Source: Honda Motor Co.)
Honda's 2014 Accord hybrid will offer 50 mpg city, 45 mpg highway, and 47 combined. Manufacturer's suggested retail price starts at $29,155.
(Source: Honda Motor Co.)

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Elizabeth M
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Impressive
Elizabeth M   10/7/2013 7:05:05 AM
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Wow, I am impressed, but not surprised, that Honda has come up with such a fuel-efficient car. I guess until a really viable and affordable EV can be developed (without worry that the Li battery in it will explode or overheat!), cars like this are great options to typical gasoline-powered vehicles. 50 miles to the gallon is nothing to sneeze at.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Impressive
Rob Spiegel   10/7/2013 11:29:54 AM
Yes, this is impressive. Perhaps with the ever improving hybrids, the importantace of a practical EV will fade as a goal. Toyota seems to think this way.

Charles Murray
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Re: Impressive
Charles Murray   10/7/2013 6:22:12 PM
Consumers will like these numbers, Rob, but the development of a practical EV will be with us for a long, long time to come, especially if the California Air Resources Board has a say in the matter.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Impressive
Rob Spiegel   10/8/2013 8:23:45 AM
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I agree Chuck. And those developments will probably go hand-in-hand with hybrid developments. Market acceptance, though, will likely depend on economics. If technology can bring down the price of hybrids and EVs, and if oil prices begin rising again, that could drive acceptance. But fracking has created a wave of new oil in this country. When they start fracking around the world. we'll see oil prices come down for an extended period.

GTOlover
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Re: Impressive
GTOlover   10/8/2013 8:45:30 AM
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Could it be that the Japanese car companies are developing their hybrid chassis to maximize the MPG and keeping an eye out for the next transformational battery technology? When the battery is smaller and more energy dense, the Toyotas and Hondas can replace the ICE for an equivalent battery (by weight). Then they have invested their time and resources in developing controls and optimized, light weight chassis.

Who knows, 5 - 10 years from now we could see the "hot rodding" of these hybrids as in ripping out the ICE, changing the control software, and putting in that super battery! Then take out the old Honda hybrid hot rod and smoke (no pun intended) the Teslas of the same vintage!!!

Stuart21
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Re: Impressive
Stuart21   10/8/2013 8:46:48 AM
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What is surprising for me is that engineering has gotten efficiency to the stage that city consumption is considerably better (less) than country - been out of the auto industry for a long time but it always used to be the other way round.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Impressive
Rob Spiegel   10/8/2013 10:19:31 AM
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Stuart21, I think we're seeing that primarily with hybrids. I could be wrong, but I'm under the impression that with traditional internal combustions engines, highway driving is still more efficient.

Stuart21
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Re: Impressive
Stuart21   10/8/2013 11:23:08 AM
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That stands to reason, Rob.

Pretty well entirely the effect of regenerative braking - coupled with the lower air resistance at 'city' speeds.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Impressive
Rob Spiegel   10/8/2013 11:32:33 AM
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That must be the reason, Stuart21. With an internal combustion engine, you're burning fuel at the red light.

Charles Murray
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Re: Impressive
Charles Murray   10/8/2013 6:29:16 PM
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Yes, electric powertrains are well-known for being more efficient in city driving than in highway driving, Rob.

Pubudu
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Re: Impressive
Pubudu   10/13/2013 1:08:11 AM
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True Charles, the beauty is when it comes to electric trains there is nothing to wary about power storage.

Charles Murray
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Re: Impressive
Charles Murray   10/7/2013 6:20:13 PM
Yes, Liz, 50 mpg is impressive, especially in a car the size of the Accord. As far as pure EVs go, I'm not worried about the overheating batteries. Engineers can always control those issues. The bigger worries will be range and cost.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Impressive
Elizabeth M   10/8/2013 6:43:48 AM
I didn't think of the size of the Accord but now that you mention it, Chuck, yes, 50 mpg seems more like something a Civic (which I used to own in the early 2000s) could achieve. So now I am even more impressed! I hope you're right about the battery issues...if it's something that can be controlled I wonder why mishaps keep happening.

ChriSharek
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Re: Impressive
ChriSharek   10/8/2013 8:41:03 AM
Charles, you know better than just about anyone that the liquid coolant systems employed by Tesla and GM keep the batteries within an optimum range and won't allow for overheating; thus extending the life of the battery and preventing the potential for fire.

Let go of the ICE . . .

Fishing_Guy
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Iron
Re: Impressive
Fishing_Guy   10/8/2013 11:04:43 AM
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Uh Oh, Tesla takes a big hit from this incident.

So, the safest car in America was on fire in Washington and as a result, shares of Tesla Motors, Inc. fell more than six percent the next day, after a bystander's YouTube video of the fire went viral.

http://bcove.me/wy9ro6dg

$70,000 up in flames - ouch!

ChriSharek
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Re: Impressive
ChriSharek   10/8/2013 8:38:26 AM
You think 50 MPG is fuel efficient!?  Really?  I'm getting 240 MPG in my 2011 Volt!  This vehicle is 3 years newer getting a quarter of my MPG!  Wake up!

Dave Palmer
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Re: Impressive
Dave Palmer   10/8/2013 9:58:04 AM
Maybe more to the point, I'm getting 40+ MPG in my 2013 Nissan Versa, which cost me under $12,000.  Why would I pay more than twice that much just to get a less than 20% improvement in fuel efficiency?

Driving 12,000 miles per year with gas at $3.50, 50 mpg vs. 40 mpg translates to a $210 annual savings.  At that rate, the payback period for the hybrid would be around 80 years... and that's assuming nothing goes wrong with the battery.  That sounds like an incredibly bad investment to me.

Actually, even a Prius C at $20,000 is a bad deal compared to the Versa, unless gas hits about $13.50 a gallon.  Then you at least have a chance of getting your money back sometime during the lifetime of the car.  If you want to get your money back in the first five years, gas needs to be over $25 a gallon, or you need to drive over 90,000 miles a year.

Now, a vehicle that got the same gas mileage as your Chevy Volt and cost under $20,000, that would be a reasonable deal.

Until then, there are enough traditional powertrain vehicles that get decent gas mileage that alternative powertrains are still mainly a status symbol.

ChriSharek
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Re: Impressive
ChriSharek   10/8/2013 1:09:04 PM
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The Chevy Spark will be here in the Fall.  All electric, 400 ft-lbs of torque, but only 80 mile range.  It will be around $25k but with the Federal Tax Credit of $7,500, it'll be under $20k. 

Once again, the American car makers are paving the way and should be rewarded.

Tool_maker
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Re: Impressive
Tool_maker   10/9/2013 6:35:19 AM
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@Chris: "Federal Tax Credit of $7500". Once again the American taxpayer is paving the way for someone else to thump their chest and declare how green they are.

  Until these alternative drive trains can exist or fall on their own, I am not impressed. As far as rewards go, let GM pay back their government loan first and then talk about rewards.

Tool_maker
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Re: Impressive
Tool_maker   10/9/2013 9:26:39 AM
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@Chris: "Federal Tax Credit of $7500". Once again the American taxpayer is paving the way for someone else to thump their chest and declare how green they are.

  Until these alternative drive trains can exist or fall on their own, I am not impressed. As far as rewards go, let GM pay back their government loan first and then talk about rewards.

debitage
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Iron
Re: Impressive
debitage   10/8/2013 11:00:55 AM
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The person with the chevy volt, if you ran out battery power and used gas  for more than 300 miles what would your milage be than?? I don't think it would be 240 mpg.

 

I have a 2013 prius, I get 50 mpg ave and better in the city driving only because the prius uses more battery power than engine power under 40 mph.

ChriSharek
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Re: Impressive
ChriSharek   10/8/2013 1:04:13 PM
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I have just over 36,000 miles on my car.  I've used just less than 150 gallons of gas.   The AVERAGE MPG over that mileage is 241.  

When I am driving across the state (300 miles like you say), I might ONLY get the 50 MPG that this "Impressive" accord gets. 

About 6,000 miles of my 36,000 miles were on gas (getting 38 MPG) and the other 30k miles are "infinite" MPG (?) using 0 gallons of gas - all electric. 

 

ChriSharek
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Re: Impressive
ChriSharek   10/8/2013 1:17:41 PM
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Let me put it this way, WHEN I'm burning gas, i'm getting the MPG you're getting in your Prius.  But 84% of the time, I'm all electric. 

 

Elizabeth M
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Re: Impressive
Elizabeth M   10/9/2013 8:33:59 AM
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Electric vehicles certainly get better mpg, ChriSharek, and I'm totally with you on the advantages. But at this point I don't think EVs are a viable option for everyone, though hopefully soon that will change.

Pubudu
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Re: Impressive
Pubudu   10/12/2013 3:00:03 PM
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Charls, thanks for sharing those info,

Elizabeth, I do agree with you on EVs should be affordable and also should be reliable. So battery warrantee is playing a major role in decision making process. Mercedes Benz new S-class Hybrid is offering a 10 Year warrantee for the battery. 

 

Pubudu
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Re: Impressive
Pubudu   10/12/2013 3:13:27 PM
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And Also Elizabeth, I believe that EVs prices should be competitive enough with the traditional fully gasolie-powered vehicles, to take decision on changing to EV.

naperlou
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Controls
naperlou   10/7/2013 10:19:31 AM
Cap'n, this is an interesting application of control technology to gain fuel effieicncy.  In the mid 1990s I got a car that had adaptive shifting for the transmission.  This allowed shift points to be adaptively changed according to how the driver used the gas.  Recently, I was looking at vehicles with my son, and we were at one dealer who mentioned that the fuel efficiency of his new car had just been increased by a change in the software in the engine management system.  I believe in that case that he said the shift points were modified.  The Honda in this article uses control technology to pick the mode adaptively.  These are all good examples of how much our fuel efficiency increases have been driven by engine controls.  I think that 54.5 MPG number is well within reach.

Charles Murray
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Re: Controls
Charles Murray   10/7/2013 6:17:41 PM
You're absolutely right, naperlou. Engine management is critical to achieving these numbers. Honda told us that the three modes we mentioned above are dependent on a variety of factors, the main ones being level of load, accelerator position and status of battery charge.

ChriSharek
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Honda Following the Leader . . .
ChriSharek   10/8/2013 8:37:22 AM
A 1.3 kw-hr battery?  Really?  Why even bother!?  It won't be eligible for federal tax incentives with that size battery either! 

Other than Nissan, the Japanese carmakers are clearly a follow the leader / let's make sure it works first /  never cutting edge / avoid risk whenever possible car manufacturer.  We heard just last week that Toyota is sticking to its hybrids because "the world isn't ready for pure electrics yet" . . . I can't wait to watch GM take back the global automotive crown. 

Get ELECTRIFIED! 

bwilson4web
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Reasonable but . . . what do users get?
bwilson4web   10/8/2013 8:44:00 AM
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Hi,

Many of us remember the Ford C-MAX that came out with impressive 47/47/47 MPG only to have the numbers 'revised' after many users could not achieve these numbers. Also, Hyundai had a problem with over-stated MPG that had to be revised. So let's get some of the cars in owner hands and see what happens but we did some 'back-of-the-envelope' calculations.

The Toyota transmission splits 28% of the power over the electrical path and 72% over the very efficient, mechanical path at all speeds. In contrast, the Honda system sends 100% of the power through the electrical path at lower speeds, below 40 mph.

We typically use 92% efficiency for the engine-to-generator and another 92% efficiency for the generator-to-motor path. The serial path efficiency being the product, ~85%. In contrast, the Toyota system sends only 28% through the relative lossy, electrical path. The rest goes through the mechanical path, typically 98% efficient (one gear set.)

We hope the Honda design works well, at least as well as the Toyota Camry hybrid, another sedan hybrid. But this is why "owner verification" is so important as 'your mileage may vary.'

Bob Wilson

ChriSharek
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The Truth
ChriSharek   10/8/2013 1:19:34 PM
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Look, I'm really not trying to brag or boast here.  I'm only trying to share the TRUTH about the Volt.  The REAL data about the Volt.  Not the garbage you read in mainstream media.

I also haven't seen a bit of a decay in the battery capacity - after 36,000 miles.  I went 46 miles on a single charge just this weekend (and had 2 miles remaining).  That is NOT what I'm hearing from Leaf owners with that many miles on their vehicle - remember that their battery is air-cooled.   

Charles Murray
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Re: The Truth
Charles Murray   10/10/2013 3:12:43 PM
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Interesting point about the Volt battery, ChrisSharek. I recently talked to an EV engineer who told me that he thought the Volt's liquid cooling system was overkill. But your experience tells a different story. I think GM will be glad they took the liquid cooling route in the long run. Check out this story from the MIT Technology Review last year:

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/429282/are-air-cooled-batteries-hurting-nissan-leaf-range/

 

Constitution_man
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Let's do some easy math...
Constitution_man   10/8/2013 1:20:40 PM
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Honda Accord Hybrid versus Chevy Volt...
Let's see here... Honda's gettin' it done for $10K less than Chevy Volt, even when you factor in GM's HUGE rebate of $7500 [sponsored by the White house]  and their recent price slash of $5000.
 
Honda Accord Hybrid versus Toyota Prius... 
MSRP's are very comparable, but the Honda is still not as efficient as a Prius.
But then again, it won't draw so many "butt ugly" remarks, either.
 
Honda Accord Hybrid versus a Dart with a conventional gas engine drivetrain...
I'll head the other direction for a moment and say...  why not save ANOTHER 10 grand UP FRONT and buy a Dodge Dart?  
Even if it's 10 mpg less efficient than the Honda... 100K mile's worth of $3.50 gas is only another $2300... and it isn't "financed" or "up front".  It's pay as you go.
 
...still NOT sold on hybrids... GM, Honda, or Toyota... NOBODY.  The economics are simply NOT there.  Even if it is time to replace your car, it will not pencil.  I cannot afford to care so much about mpg when the real yardstick for me [and most car owners, for that matter] is COST PER MILE of ownership.
 
I have come to the conclusion, respectfully, that hybrids and EV's are for people who can afford to cuddle the spotted owl with their checkbooks...


ChriSharek
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Re: Let's do some easy math...
ChriSharek   10/8/2013 6:11:33 PM
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Constitution man, I totally agree with you on the traditional (parallel) hybrid vehicles.  It's not worth the additional $3-4k to improve your gas mileage by 5-10 MPG. 

However, if you pay a little more up front for an EV or PHEV and actually add a digit to your mileage, say go from 24 MPG to 240 MPG, then that's another story.  The $35,000 Volt - $7,500 FTC = $28k.  But, when you factor in the savings on gas and maintenance, the vehicles really begin to make sense and cents. 

 

 

bobjengr
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HONDA 50 MPG HYBRID
bobjengr   10/8/2013 3:04:45 PM
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Thank you Charles for the update and great slide show.  I have owned two Honda Civics and drove them both towards 250,000 miles before trading.  Both Honda and Toyota have remarkable reliability records which I feel is due to their conservative design.  I only hope the Honda Accord Hybrid can achieve the same reliability.    I think the "engine only" design is very unique and it will be very interesting to see how the design holds up relative to everyday driving. 

Charles Murray
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Re: HONDA 50 MPG HYBRID
Charles Murray   10/8/2013 6:26:20 PM
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Your experience with Hondas is common, bobjengr. I recently spoke to someone who traded in his Honda Accord with 455,000 miles on it. He said he would still be driving if he hadn't left it in a parking lot that flooded near O'Hare Airport in Chicago earlier this year. Prior to the flood, he said he expected the car to exceed half a million miles with no problem.

Charles Murray
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Comparison
Charles Murray   10/8/2013 6:36:51 PM
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For those who are comparing, a 2014 Honda Accord with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine gets 27 city, 36 highway, 30 combined, according to fueleconomy.gov.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Comparison
Dave Palmer   10/10/2013 7:43:38 PM
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@Charles: Okay, so let's compare apples to apples: 2014 Accord ($23,625 MSRP, 30 mpg combined) vs. 2014 Accord Hybrid ($29,155, 47 mpg combined).  Assuming that you drive 12,000 miles per year and gas costs $3.50, the hybrid will save you about $500 a year on gas.  Since the difference is MSRP is over $5000, that means it will take over 10 years to pay for itself.

Of course, if you drive a lot more miles, or if gas gets a lot more expensive, the payback period gets shorter.  But it will still be over 5 years for most people.  Chances are, your gas savings will never offset your higher car payment until you're done paying for the car.

Charles Murray
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Re: Comparison
Charles Murray   10/11/2013 6:24:54 PM
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Good analysis, Dave. The scenario you've described is reasonable for the majority of vehicle owners. Of course, if you double it and drive 24,000 miles per year, then you can hit the break even point in half that time. And if you keep it for 200,000, as many people do now, you end up ahead. (I have 198,000 on my car.) So the bottom line is it may not be feasible for a lot of car owners, but those who drive a lot of miles and keep their cars for a long time can realize the benefits.

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