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Honda’s IMA will dominate future high performance automotives

Honda, a company of many firsts introduced IMA (integrated motor assist) to the world in the original 1999 Insight, still the average mpg record holder for a major manufactured production hybrid.
I believe that Honda will dominate the future performance hybrid market in North America.

When we take a look at the Honda 2014 CR-Z Hybrid Sports Coupe, We find a vehicle that demonstrates the beauty of IMA applied automotive engineering. IMA, first Introduced to the world by Honda in the form of the original mass produced gasoline electric hybrid; the 1999 Insight. Despite the onslaught of automotive news media driven battery -life and replacement cost propaganda that resulted in consumer hesitancy to purchase one, the Insight was the least expensive hybrid of the day and would set average mpg records that still stand to this day.

From time to time I’ll sight one on the streets of Eugene and am always taken aback by the Jetson Esque modern line and mono chrome paint theme of the original Insight.

Fifteen years after its inception these cars remain very cutting edge. At the heart of this well working Hybrid is the Honda IMA propulsion configuration. Beautiful in its simplicity, Honda Engineering has married a primary high efficiency small displacement 1-VTEC engine with an electric ( power booster.) And of -course a lithium battery for surplus generated power storage.

Perhaps that’s a bit simplistic as to the engineering genius that’s IMA. Implications suggest that the principle can and may be applied to all modes of personal and commercial transportation.And, while Honda looks to hydrogen fuel cell generated electricity as an answer to ending oil/ fossil fuel dependency, I believe that a bio-diesel or compressed natural gas IMA will be the answer for North America.

What we find today in the Vezel, Civic Hybrid, CR-Z and Accord Hybrid is the winning combination of an internal combustion high efficiency generator, driving a high torque electric motor. Cogeneration, brake re-generation, CVT, gasoline engine primary with electric motor secondary rear or front wheel drive drive, all, Honda firsts.

Wow, my head is spinning.

The bottomline is this, Honda, the largest engine builder in the world has the dollar reserve to continue pumping resources into the the development of alternative modes of personal transportation. As the company continues to drive the evolution of the small, efficient internal combustion engine sector as demonstrated by the 1.5 liter i-VTEC and 2.0 Civic R, torque transference to the drive wheel will be increased through the utilization of advanced electric motor design and the evolution of the lithium battery.

Today we find the Honda Civic and Fit encroaching on the 50 mpg barrier. And, doing so while meeting or beating CARB emission standards. Moving a 2400 lb car 50 miles down the road on a gallon of gasoline is mind boggling. What’s your lawn mower burn in an hour?

To do so requires “ throttle by wire”computerized fuel controls,low wind resistance, special low friction tire compounds, traction control and “smart” 4 wheel drive systems as found in the Ridgeline.

Prediction: Look for Honda to release a hybrid Ridgeline pickup and Odyssey minivan in 2015-16.