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120374Re: [toyota-prius] Re: Honda loses Small Claims Court suit over Civic hybrid fuel economy

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  • Walter Lee
    Feb 3, 2012
      Ms. Heather Peter's 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid (HCH) Traction battery didn't fail prematurely. Her lawsuit is based on the Honda advertising the Civic  Hybrids EPA rating of 49 mpg city/51mpg highway was essentially false advertisement. However, most auto reviews like the 2006 CNet Review observed combined city/highway fuel efficiency in the 30 to 40 mpg range[1] so this is her weakest part of her case.  It is possible to get fuel efficiency higher than the EPA rating for the HCH  , but this requires special hypermiling skills/techniques. Ms Peter's lawsuit strongest claim is that  a 2010  recall for her 2006 Civic Hybrids where Honda updated the software of the hybrid control system to "help prevent early IMA battery deterioration" had (damaged) lowered her car's fuel efficiency.  In the original 2006 HCH design, the minimum HV battery state of charge(SOC) level was set very low before the ICE was automatically turned on to recharge the HV
      battery. The original HCH design upped the HV battery output of the small HV(traction) battery but also shortened its lifespan. The result was a signficant number of premature HV battery failures in the 2006-2007 HCH, so in 2010 Honda had a  recall to update the ECU software so that the HV battery SOC level was higher when the ICE would be trigger - which in turn help extend the lifespan of the HV battery. When the ICE is triggered because of a low SOC level - the real world fuel efficiency drops significantly. On a 2010 Toyota Prius this drop is about 5mpg to 8mpg.  BTW If one can avoid triggering these ICE auto HV battery recharging sessions - your MPG can more often than not jump up over the EPA rating.  One of the most common driving situations which can drain a hybrid's HV battery is when the hybrid is stuck in a traffic jam lasting longer than 15 minutes and where the hybrid is driven in multiple stop and go burst sessions using
      only the electric motor only  at  low speeds from 0mph to 20 mph.  (BTW The hypermiling solution is to do use the ICE instead of the electric motors a mini-pulse-n-glides sessions )
      The 26 page judgement is linkable on Ms Heather Peter's website for this lawsuit is www.dontsettlewithhonda.org [2].
      I'm getting over the EPA rating for my 2010 Prius - but then again I'm hypermiling it. 
      The reason I picked a Toyota Prius over a Honda Insight was because of the user/owner community.
      There really isn't much in terms of books or instructional/educational/institutional
      support in learning how to maximize/optimize/leveraging hybrid technology.
      Most hybrid information is either on a website or via user support groups. 
      I realize that I didn't stand a chance of understanding the implications of hybrid technology
      unless I got help from a supportive user/owner community.  There wasn't any
      contest --- the Toyota Prius had the most loyal, intelligent, active largest,
      and supportive user/owner community.  It was a no brainer for me.


      From: ChrisZ <chriszerby1@...>
      To: toyota-prius@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, February 3, 2012 5:08 PM
      Subject: [toyota-prius] Re: Honda loses Small Claims Court suit over Civic hybrid fuel economy


      --- In toyota-prius@yahoogroups.com, Walter Lee <waltermlee@...> wrote:
      > This case is particular to the Honda Civic Hybrid(HCH) in that it has had a history of HV battery failures. Honda's response was to update the computer software to kick in the battery recharging at a higher State of Charge Level. The plantiff Ms Peters claimed that a Honda software update to her Honda Civic Hybrid ECU caused her car's fuel efficiency to drop to 30 mpg.

      **Just to play the devil's advocate here**, she didn't seem to claim that her traction battery failed prematurely and that she should be reimbursed for that. Isn't that what she should have sued for? She claimed the car didn't get as good of gas mileage as Honda's EPA estimate. We discussed here many times how the estimated EPA mileage numbers are based on very specific driving patterns that don't always represent day-to-day real world driving. And "average" can be a very tricky thing in itself. I'd be curious to know what kind of records she submitted supporting her case. The judgement was an impressive 26 pages long.

      Just out of curiosity, I looked up the EPA's information on the 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid fuel economy. The "real world average" reported is 45 mpg.


      Consumer Reports got 37 mpg overall, so it was known at the time that the car probably wouldn't average 50 mpg.

      "Consumer Reports' testers were disappointed in the fuel economy results when we tested the 2006 Civic Hybrid. The car achieved 37 mpg overall, with 26 mpg in the city and 47 mpg on the highway."



      P.S. I'm now even happier that I did not buy a Honda Civic Hybrid in 2002 when I bought my Prius. I briefly considered it.

      P.P.S I'm currently averaging around 35 mpg in this weird Minnesota winter, with my particular driving pattern. Should I sue Toyota? [wink] [grin] [just kidding]

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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