The Yeager’s Honda Civic Hybrid Generation 1

17 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи The Yeager’s Honda Civic Hybrid Generation 1 отключены
Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)

The Yeager’s 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid

Civic in the driveway of our home south of Trenton.


It was a poor bit of timing but our old faithful 1988 Mercury Cougar dropped a valve seat right in the midst of the first economic recession of the Twenty-first Century. Our home town mechanic, Kenny Anderson, diagnosed the problem with the alarming prospect that the repair could easily top $1500. Combined with the already deteriorating power equipment, suspension, and just nickel and dime stuff.

The inevitable had happened and we needed to purchase another automobile.

The Dying 1988 Cougar.

Fortunately, being a car buff, I had already done a fair amount of research on what car would be a good addition to the stable. We wanted it to be a 4 cylinder, 5 speed manual, and have a very reliable pedigree. I spoke with Kenny Anderson and got a laundry list of advise: avoid Saturns (junk), avoid Volkswagen (replacement part costs and complication of repairs), and avoid early Ford Focuses (junk).

Be careful with Toyota as while they are very reliable there is little in the way of after-market repair and replacement parts. Hondas are reliable, are easy to repair, and have a huge aftermarket parts supply network.

The Search

I concentrated on Toyota and Honda with an eye toward hybrids. Craig’s List was used but it’s search routine was garbage. It was hard to narrow down the search and the loose method of posting by users made it equally difficult to narrow the search parameters and come up with a small group of results.

A typical search for Toyota Corolla 5 speed resulted in hundreds of postings, many of which were extraneous. eBay was utilized next but few local cars were listed. From a nation wide standpoint several usable leads for hybrids resulted from searching eBay.

So the search algorithm that developed was to concentrate on hybrids while assuming several tradition Civic and Corolla possibilities would arise locally. I made several calls and personal visits to local dealerships and sent emails to several groups asking for prayer and open eyes.

I followed a local lead or two and dismissed those mainly because the asking price well surpassed the Kelly Blue Book value for the vehicle. Meanwhile I had selected a wide variety of hybrids and other little cars to watch on eBay mostly to get a feel for what vehicles are selling for and how the eBay system worked.

After a couple of weeks I was monitoring the end of an auction for a Civic Hybrid I was actually interested in. The price was very depressed so I posted a bid during the last 60 seconds and won the auction, well, kind of. I had not surpassed the reserve amount and technically did not win. I called the cell number posted on the listing to inquire whether or not the car would be listed again.

I spoke with Evgueni Popov who went by Eugene. Evgueni was a kind and forthright professed Christian so we hit it off right away. We quickly agreed on a price we could both live with and I began to make arrangements to fly out to see the car and visit Mr.


The Rational

A used hybrid? Well, why not? Its not like I don’t get a kick out of things that get good fuel mileage. My other blogs chronicling our adventures with the Escort. the Ninja 250s. and the E-Z-GO TXT certainly underscore my fascination with fuel effeminacy and small vehicles. So why not play with something that can really get some fuel mileage.

Additionally I have been watching with interest the development of hybrid automobiles and had reached the conclusion that, for a variety of reasons, the first generation Civic Hybrids were the pinnacle of the power assist hybrid technology that would be an excellent fit with our unique situation.

It would seem that many Texans think that they are going to start giving gasoline away again as little cars are not selling as they should and big SUVs are still clogging the freeways. However, the same human greed that caused the economic mess the world is currently embroiled in will cause fuel prices to soar above $4.00 and beyond in time. At $5.00 a gallon for 87 Octane near 50 MPG for long distance family transportation begins to look very attractive.

There are several reasons why a hybrid might be a logical choice if the purchase price is similar to or under that of a tradition internal combustion driven automobile. Most hybrids are manufactured in Japan and made to very strict tolerances which means they maybe be better built than their American and Mexican made non-hybrid counterparts. If we can get well over 300,000 miles out of an Escort we should be able to get at least that many out of an engine that requires synthetic oil from the factory.

So why a first generation Honda Civic Hybrid? The 1338 cc VTEC engine is a direct descendent of the 1994 Honda VX hatchback owned by my parents. The Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) is well proven as it was first seen in the 2000 Honda Insight.

Compared with true parallel hybrids the IMA is simple and the automotive hobbyist can more easily keep it running at full functionality. Additionally, there is real world evidence that the G-1 Civic Hybrid with manual transmission is more fuel efficient at highway speeds than G-2 Civic Hybrids which only come with a constant velocity transmission..

There is an old adage that states there is no replacement for displacement. while this is quite true for power and acceleration the converse is equally true for fuel mileage as our little Ninja 250s prove that less is more when correlating to fuel economy. These little VTEC engines get amazing fuel mileage in their own right, my parents’ VX for example, getting in the mid to upper 40s on the highway (until the tiny 165/70 13 tires were no longer available). The hybrid version of the VTEC engine is set to operate at or close to peak efficiency at highway speeds and the small, but torquey, electric motor is available to help the little 1.3 liter up hills and passing trucks.

The type of hybrid drive system is also a consideration due to our rural location (See How Hybrid Cars Work from How Stuff Works for an excellent explanation of the differences of the two primary hybrid systems currently on the market). The first generation Civic Hybrid’s Integrated Motor Assist (electric motor assisted hybrid) technology is designed to use the engine for primary power, with a torque-boosting electric motor grafted into a conventional drive train for efficiency during highway travel. The internal combustion engine must be operating for vehicular motion to take place. The Toyota Hybrid-Drive System (parallel hybrid), which can support forward motion with the electric motor only at low speeds, is most efficient in urban environments. The more complex Toyota Hybrid-Drive System can use various combinations of gasoline engine and electric motor at high speeds.

The configuration differences would also allow the G-1 Honda Civic Hybrid to survive without the Integrated Motor Assist with only a drop in fuel mileage where as the Toyota Prius would have a harder time being functional if it lost its battery pack. Second generation Civic Hybrids adopted a parallel hybrid design that is more attractive and marketable to urbanites.

One of our greatest concerns was the life span and replacement cost of the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) battery array. After some research including interviewing Ronald Tanka of Honda Cars of McKinney, speaking with a local Toyota service manager, rifling through the FAQs of several hybrid car forums, and reading up on basic battery technology I uncovered some hybrid battery basics: batteries hate heat and like to be kept charged. The instances of early IMA battery demise (sub 100,000 miles) are linked to short trip urban stop-and-go commuting with long periods of sitting in hot parking lots while long IMA battery life (150,000 mile plus) appeared to be directly correlated to extended highway driving.


It is clear that with new hybrids having a $3000 to $5000 premium over typical economy cars and hybrid batteries commanding a $3000 replacement cost every 100,000 miles that hybrids cannot yet be economically justified. It maybe that considering hybrid battery disposal and manufacturing there is no improvement in carbon foot print over non hybrid autos. Hybrids are likely not completely ready for prime time yet. But this is likely to change with the introduction of the G-3 Prius and the G-2 Insight. (In all honesty, I feel that a hybrid mode added to the well proven diesel-electric system used for years by the railroad industry has the most potential.)

The automotive industry is clearly viewing hybrid technology as a transition to the next big thing, whatever that might prove to be. Most major manufacturers have hybrid vehicles as at least a halo model. The hybrid technology in the third generation Insight and Prius are quite impressive and prices are coming down.

Honda hybrid Civic

Because of this concentration on development and marketing one can logically extrapolate that the aftermarket will begin to become involved and further force hybrid replacement part prices lower. All this of course gives hope to those that would like to keep their hybrid for the long term as the implication is that ease and cost of hybrid repair and maintenance should improve over time.


Our situation is very unique as we live in a small town that has a local grocery store, schools, and churches all with in two miles of the house. A the nearest large grocery store, mall, etc. requires a trip of at least 25 mostly highway miles. The 10 to 15 miles urban trips that parallel hybrids like the G-3 Toyota Prius and G-2 Honda Insight truly excel at do not exist for us. We use the E-Z-GO for commuting as we live half a mile from one of the Trenton ISD campuses where Joleen and I both work. The Escort is still the ideal transport and all around workhorse.

The Honda IMA could therefore live in the lap of luxury benefiting from both battery cooling garage life and the greater battery charging efficiency of a designated highway trip vehicle. In turn the Honda Civic Hybrid could provide its optimum efficiency as the designated highway trip vehicle.

At this writing the market for Civic Hybrids with a manual transmission is depressed when compared with Toyota Prius or other hybrids with CVTs (the first generation Insights are considered by many to be the holy Grail of hybrids and command quite a high price even with 200,000 miles or more on the clock) making a Civic Hybrid equivalent in price with other comparably equipped Civic models. In our unique situation a hybrid could make sense given the right price. The opportunity for a tinkerer such as myself to play with emerging technology and push the MPG envelope: priceless.

Monthly Journal Entries

May 16, 2009 — When they tell you to arrive about 90 minutes prior to your flight they aren’t just whistling Dixie. Joleen was busy with graduate homework but could spare a bit of time to take me to Commerce and drop me off at my folks house. My mother had business in Dallas that Saturday morning and dropped me off at Dallas Love Field where I made my Southwest Airlines flight with only about 20 minutes to spare.

This was my first time on a commercial flight and I am sure I looked it. I was struck by how much flex was designed into the Boeing 373. as was evident during take off. The power of the jet turbine engines was amazing.

The mooring was rainy and once we reached a little over 10,000 feet we were in or above the clouds for the trip (yes I wrote this during the flight) Coffee and a tiny bag of honey roasted peanuts: the breakfast of champions. I am sure 37,000 feet would been quite the view if the only thing to view weren’t clouds. Once we began our approach to Saint Louis the clouds broke briefly and revealed a lovely rural landscape.

Man looks pretty insignificant from up here.

Evgueni Popov met me at the west terminal of the Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport once I landed. Evgueni immigrated from Moscow, Russia in 1997 and later earned a batchler’s degree from Tennessee Temple University. Having settled in Saint Louis he met and married Larisa, a young lady who attended the same church as Evgueni.

Larisa had immigrated from the Ukraine with her family. They currently are expecting their first and live with her parents and siblings while Evgueni searches for a job that will launch his post collegent career.

Upon picking the car up I want to see what it would really do with 600+ miles of Interstate and four lane in front of me. I filled the tank as I was just leaving town and stopped only for dinner in Springfield. The car achieved 50 MPG while having the cruise control set to the speed limit which ranged generally from 65 MPH to 75 MPH.

I discovered later that the tires were under inflated and the alignment off.

Rain at Dallas Love Field.

The clouds begin to break.

Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic
Honda hybrid Civic

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