Being at the pinnacle of motorsports, it’s not uncommon to see technology move downstream from Formula 1 towards regular road-going cars. Over the years, we’ve had things like dual-clutch gearbox, adaptive suspension, and paddle shifters all making it’s way onto the cars we drive daily.
With Honda re-entering Formula 1 as an engine supplier in 2015, the company says that its upcoming Jazz Hybrid has already benefitted from the venture, with a little Formula 1 DNA in its e:HEV engine.
Much like the latest Formula 1 engines, the e:HEV powertrain in the all-new Honda Jazz Hybrid recycles energy and harnesses it to charge the battery, or increase the engine output when needed, seamless switching between drive modes for maximum efficiency.
Of course, the output figures are nothing like the RA620H used to power Aston Martin Red Bull and Scuderia Toro Rosso (now called the Scuderia AlphaTauri) F1 cars, but the general working theory is basically the same.
Honda Head of Power Unit Development, Yasuaki Asaki 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 powertrain in the all-new Honda Jazz utilises two compact electric motors alongside the 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine to deliver the optimum balance between fuel efficiency and power. Together, they send a combined output of 109 hp and 253 Nm to the front wheels through a unique electronically-controlled CVT with a single fixed-gear ratio.
Just like an F1 car, the e:HEV powertrain can be driven in many different modes for different situations. The EV Drive mode uses the electric motor to drive the wheels directly, with power coming from the lithium-ion battery. Hybrid Drive meanwhile uses the engine to power the electric generator motor, which in turns supplies electric power for the twin electric propulsion motors. Engine Drive mode allows the engine to directly power the wheels via a lock-up clutch.
Honda says the first two modes are mostly used in urban settings, where the all-new Honda Jazz will be able to automatically switch between the two seamlessly. For highway driving, Engine Drive is normally used, supplemented by an on-demand peak power ‘boost’ from the electric propulsion motor for faster acceleration – just like Formula 1.