When the all-new Jazz launches later this year it will drive advanced Honda hybrid innovation from the race track to the road. Using engineering expertise from its motorsport team, Honda is drawing knowledge from its Formula 1 Hybrid Power Unit (PU) programme to improve the energy efficiency of the brand’s e:HEV hybrid system. The latest Honda Formula 1 Hybrid Power Unit, named RA620H, uses a highly efficient 1600cc six-cylinder internal combustion engine, combined with an Energy Recovery System. The advanced hybrid electrical systems ingeniously recycle energy produced by the brakes and exhaust gases to generate extra boost power for acceleration and to reduce turbo lag. Last season, Honda’s Hybrid Power Unit helped its partner teams, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso (now known as Scuderia AlphaTauri), achieve a total of three race wins and six podium places.
During races, Honda Formula 1 engineers are constantly assessing and changing the ratio of energy recovered and deployed by the hybrid system to deliver optimum performance. The expertise they have developed in running hybrid power units at optimum efficiency and power output inspires Honda’s range of advanced e:HEV powertrains in its passenger cars. The latest road-going beneficiary of this technology is the all-new Jazz. Its e:HEV hybrid system recycles energy and harnesses it to charge the battery and support engine output, for strong performance, seamless switching between drive modes and maximum efficiency.
Yasuaki Asaki, Head of PU Development explains: “During a Formula 1 race weekend teams have to manage very carefully how much fuel they use to comply with the sport’s regulations. In a race we can divide the total fuel allowance over the number of laps, but there are going to be situations where a team might wish to use more fuel in order to get higher performance and in other parts of the race they will want to save fuel for later, while behind a safety car for example. In a race, the communication between the race engineer and the driver is key to achieving that best balance. However, in our road-going e:HEV hybrids we apply our expertise to ensure the Powertrain control units deliver the best possible power to efficiency ratio for the driver, in any required driving mode.”
The e:HEV system is newly developed for Jazz and engineered to deliver optimum fuel efficiency and an enjoyable driving experience. It consists of two compact, powerful electric motors connected to a 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC petrol engine, a lithium-ion battery and an innovative fixed-gear transmission via an intelligent power control unit, which all work harmoniously together to provide a smooth and direct response. To deliver such a highly-rewarding driving experience and exceptional efficiency, the advanced e:HEV hybrid set-up seamlessly selects from three interchangeable drive modes:
- EV Drive: the lithium-ion battery supplies power to the electric propulsion motor directly
- Hybrid Drive: the engine supplies power to the electric generator motor, which in turn supplies it to the electric propulsion motor
- Engine Drive: the petrol engine is connected directly to the wheels via a lock-up clutch and driveforce is transmitted directly from engine to the wheels
In most urban driving situations, optimum efficiency is achieved through seamless transitions between EV Drive and Hybrid Drive. For driving at highway speeds, Engine Drive is used, supplemented by an on-demand peak power ‘boost’ from the electric propulsion motor for fast acceleration. In Hybrid Drive, excess power from the petrol engine can also be diverted to recharge the battery via the generator motor. EV Drive is also engaged when the car is decelerating, harvesting energy through regenerative braking to recharge the battery.
Rather than using a conventional transmission, Jazz is equipped with a newly-developed Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT) with a single fixed-gear ratio to create a direct connection between moving components. The result is a smooth and reassuring transfer of torque with a linear feel during acceleration across all drive modes. Honda’s racing heritage dates back to 1958 and in 1965 the brand saw its first Formula 1 win. Throughout its participation in Formula 1, Honda has won a total of 74 Grands Prix and six constructors titles. This participation in the highest level of motorsport has enabled Honda to maintain its highly advanced engineering capabilities and apply its on-track expertise to the road.