Have you heard of the Honda e-HEV powertrain system?

Have you heard of the Honda e-HEV powertrain system?

Do you understand what e-HEV really means and how it works?

When Honda Malaysia did the world premiere of their all new Honda City sedan in Malaysia in late 2020, many were surprised, especially the motoring media from Indonesia and also Thailand where they have a higher number of Honda City buyers.

Still, we Malaysians were proud that Honda Japan had picked Malaysia to be the host country. With this new City sedan came a brand new powertrain system called e-HEV. It was to be the high specification powertrain. Yes, the regular petrol 1.5L version will also be made available for sale, but this new e-HEV was to be Honda’s flagship and the City sedan was the first of many new models to carry this powertrain.

Honda City

Now, almost 18 months later and with many units already running on Malaysian roads, there are still a number of Malaysia City e-HEV owners that really do not understand the technology that is sitting under their shiny front hood.

Back in 2019 at the Tokyo Motor Show (pre-pandemic) we were given a brief introduction of the e-HEV system and it was made known to use that all future Honda hybrid powertrain technology will carry this name.

Honda hybrid powertrain

 It is just like VTEC which was used for Honda petrol engines for decades. As you might already know, Honda was one of the early providers of hybrid engines. Competing closely with Toyota Motor at the time who had their Prius hybrid, Honda engineers introduced their first hybrid, the Honda Insight in 1997 and there were three generations until 2015.

With the Honda Insight, there was a petrol engine being assisted by an electric motor that was powered by a battery system. Just like with the Toyota Prius powertrain. 

Honda hybrid powertrain

Now with the Honda e-HEV system, the situation is reversed and Honda calls it an electrified powertrain. Why, well the electric motors (there are two motors) for the e-HEV is bigger and it is the primary powertrain for the vehicle. The 1.5L petrol engine is a ‘generator’ to charge up the battery system that powers the electric motors to ‘drive’ the Honda car.

So, when you start your Honda e-HEV up, it's the electric motor that comes on and not the petrol engine. You go into ‘drive mode’ and the car drives like any other electric vehicle. When the battery gets weak, seamlessly the 1.5L petrol engine ignites and it starts charging up the battery to provide enough ‘juice’ to keep you moving in traffic.

Honda hybrid powertrain

When the battery gets enough ‘juice’ the 1.5L petrol engine shuts-off and you only have the battery system powering the two electric motors until it is needed again. So, when you start driving a Honda e-HEV for the first time you might think of it more as an electric car that is carrying its own EV battery generator. 

This means, no charging cable is necessary, no visits to a battery charging station, no issue with long distance commuting to places with NO battery charging facilities. Meanwhile you get a very good driving range with little petrol use and no driving range anxiety. All future Honda models will use this e-HEV powertrain. 

Also read: Adventure-ready Honda Prologue EV coming in 2024

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