The MOST anticipated entry level hybrid from Honda is coming in hot and Autocar jumped the gun on the media embargo and present the Jazz Hybrid to be unveiled at Paris Motor Show next month. Please visit Autocar website for better resolution pictures of the car here. You can also check at your other favorite auto blogs or online automotive news about the Jazz hybrid.
As you can see, the difference is merely cosmetics, different grill, bumper and blue shaded headlights differentiating the regular and the hybrid Fit. The rear also receives similar cosmetic changes with clear taillights, accented bumper and chrome accented trunk garnish.
Without the hybrid plaque on the rear, you will surely miss this hybrid on the road… Which is good, because you don’t want to attract attention to criminals whose MO is to puncture your tire with a hollow nail and rob you silly (because you don’t have spare tire).
It has been confirmed that the Fit/Jazz hybrid will be sporting the same engine used on the Insight 2.0, a 1.3L i-VTEC with IMA producing around 100ps. Interior pictures are still kept secret from Honda, but words are circulating that the Fit/Jazz Hybrid will have single color dashboard and blue lit dials. You can check out my entry about Honda Insight engine here, but for peace of mind sake, I’ll divulge a bit about the heart of Honda hybrid system.
Honda hybrid system or Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) is a simple system where an electric motor is sandwiched between the internal combustion motor and the driving wheel, in Honda case it’s always the front wheel to date. Back when it was introduced with the 2000 Honda Insight, the IMA doesn’t have the ability to purely run on electric motor. However, when the Insight 2.0 launched early last year, the IMA system was updated to purely run on electric motor albeit with a very strict condition… Steady cruise speed without any inclination… Any degree of inclination, then the motor kicks in again. Still good anyway.
A cut out of Honda IMA system, notice how the engine’s width is very narrow
Honda called its hybrid system IMA for a good reason, it simply “assists” the internal combustion engine at low speed and when the car is accelerating fast. A good thing because the nature of electric motor to produce maximum torque at just 1000 RPM means the engine doesn’t have to burn unnecessary excessive fuel to launch the car at stop and go driving. The IMA also acts as a starter motor because the whole engine has the ability to be turned off at idle (traffic lights) automatically and restarts at the press of the gas pedal.
To produce electricity, the IMA system itself is a cylindrical generator system that spins with the internal combustion engine. At steady speed, the IMA recharge the battery and when there’s a forward movement usually caused by braking the IMA also captures this momentum to spin the generator the opposite way and producing electricity.
A complete Honda IMA engine + transmission, the IMA system is marked yellow at the bottom picture
Something to note is that Honda engineers can’t magically insert an IMA system to an existing engine *snap* like that. The IMA takes considerable space inside the engine bay, therefore something got to give and it’s usually the engine that gets the shorter end of the straw. Honda hybrid system uses a specifically designed narrow engine to allow the placement of the IMA system next to the gearbox.
Now for the million Pesos/Ringgit/Sing Dollar/Rupiah/Baht/Dong question for us Asia Pacific residents… Will we get it? We don’t get the Insight, the CR-Z and the Civic Hybrid costs an arm and a leg. Are we getting the cream again instead of a bite of the cake? Not quite! We’ve seen the almost miraculous Honda Freed launched in the Asia Pacific, exclusive even outside of Japan… And why? Because the Freed is produced in the Asia Pacific region to gain advantage of AFTA. The Fit/Jazz has been produced in Indonesia for quite sometime, so you see where I’m going, it’s too easy for Honda to just import the hybrid engine and assembled it in Indonesia and imports it to other country in ASEAN. If this is inline with Honda global plan to be the leading automaker of hybrids (it’s in the CEO midyear speech which I’m going to cover soon), then, we will see a near simultaneous release of the Fit hybrid all over the world; Europe, America, Australia and Asia.
So when? The Fit hybrid in Europe will be announced at the Paris Motor Show next month and launched early 2011, in the United States it’s still unconfirmed but it will be there around 2011 as 2012 model, nope, it’s totally unconfirmed. The United States might even missed the hybrid Fit/Jazz totally… A bit of a “huh” moment, because the Europeans will get it although they already has the Insight 2.0 just like the Americans. On the other side of the world, Japan’s Nikkei confirmed that the Fit hybrid will be launched around Fall in Japan. Using Freed’s launch time frame, then it’s just a matter of 1 to 1.5 years before us ASEANs can drive a genuine affordable hybrid courtesy of Honda. So expect the Fit/Jazz hybrid to announced at the end of 2011 and available at the latest early 2012 in ASEAN.
How much? Now this is the interesting part… Because of difference in currency and taxes, I’m just going to use Indonesia expected price and price estimate slot, which will be universal. Honda Jazz RS in Indonesia is priced at Rp. 222 Million (2 Million Yen) while the Japanese Fit RS is priced at 1.69 Million Yen, specs are the same except we use 5AT instead of CVT, price difference between both automatic transmission should be negligible. The Freed in Indonesia is priced at Rp. 258 Million (2.4 Million Yen) while the same Freed is priced at 1.99 Million Yen in Japan, again specs are the same (digital AC control & power retractable mirror just recently added), except for the use of 5AT instead of CVT and the lack of HID.
Let’s do a simple math, now both the Fit/Jazz RS and the Freed in Indonesia reflects a 18 & 20% mark up in price compared with its Japanese brothers, let’s take 20% as our baseline number. Now let’s take Nikkei’s reported Fit hybrid price which starts at a cool 1.59 Million Yen, in Indonesia, the Jazz hybrid will be priced starting at Rp. 202 Million… Now I suspect that it will be a manual version, so add the usual 10-14 Million for an automatic version, and voila! The estimated Honda Jazz hybrid automatic will be offered in Indonesia for around Rp. 216 Million (roughly US$22K), hell! Round that up to Rp. 220 Million and people will still buy it! Now let’s say Honda decided to go greedy or wanted to add the RS trim to the Jazz hybrid. In Indonesia, the Jazz RS commands Rp. 13 Million more than the baseline Jazz, so added to the baseline Jazz hybrid, the Jazz hybrid RS will still worth Rp. 229 Million… And that my friends are something totally purchasable.
If, and this is just another silly if from me… If Honda wanted to play “screw you all, this is the first commercially affordable hybrid in ASEAN, I’m putting price premium to you suckers!”, the Jazz hybrid will still be below Freed’s price or at the very least, the same. Still, I’m buying one if I don’t have any car by that time. The Jazz hybrid reported fuel consumption is 26 Km/L or 61 MPG (US), but I suspect it’s just highway number. For inner city driving, I expect that number to drop to half at 13 Km/L or 30,5 MPG (US)… Again, that number is already phenomenal, my 1.5L SX4 automatic only manages an average of 8,4 Km/L or 19,7 MPG (US) for pure inner city driving.
Personally, I’m betting that the Jazz hybrid price range will be around Rp. 220 Million to Rp. 230 Million. It will be priced at Jazz RS level, and complement each other. One you pay premium for exhilarating drive and the other if you are down with the earth and stuff. Tax wise, the car wouldn’t be a luxury import because it is based on an existing car… So if there’s any different tax imposed, I’m really speechless.
Update: 26 August 2010 – more info from other online media