August 23, 2007 Honda (UK) have launched a high-spec, voice controlled Sat Nav-equipped version of its Civic Hybrid - the first time a Hybrid has featured factory-fitted Sat Nav as standard equipment.

The Civic Hybrid EX is a combination of a petrol engine with an electric motor and also features leather upholstery and Honda’s Hands Free Telephone (HFT) equipment, which uses Bluetooth technology to allow mobile phone calls to be made safely on the move.

It’s the first time a Hybrid has featured factory-fitted Sat Nav as standard equipment, meeting a growing demand in the sector, particularly from corporate customers wanting high-spec, low emission cars.

Also for the first time on a Honda Hybrid, intelligent brake technology is employed in a new regenerative braking system. A brake pedal sensor detects the driver’s braking force and reaction time and then calculates the correct amount of hydraulic braking and regenerative braking required to slow or stop the vehicle. The regenerative braking comes from the electric motor/generator, which helps slow the car down. This assistance cuts down the workload for the hydraulic brakes, thus extending the life of the brakes and their components. At the same time, the Hybrid’s electric motor recovers the energy used during deceleration, and uses it to charge the car’s high voltage battery.

Controls for the HFT kit are mounted on the steering wheel, while the DVD Navigation unit in the Civic Hybrid EX replaces the existing 6 CD changer, mounted in the dashboard above the air-conditioning controls.

As well as offering maps of the UK and Western Europe, it can monitor traffic congestion and advise the user on alternative routes.

In addition, the Honda Sat Nav system can be controlled by voice recognition. Just hold the correct button, say the word ‘Restaurant’ and the system will locate the nearest places to eat, and then direct you to them.

According to Honda customers are demanding a higher level of equipment.

“In the fleet market in particular, many drivers demand kit like Sat Nav, because they use the car for business on a daily basis. The new EX will allow us to meet those needs, and therefore we should appeal to an even wider range of businesses and user chooser drivers,” explains Harvey Hughes, Manager – Corporate Operations adds Hughes.

Sales of hybrid cars in the UK have reportedly doubled in the last 12 months – making cleaner cars the fastest growing sector in the industry.

How does Honda’s Hybrid system work? Vehicle stationary: The petrol engine is turned off and fuel consumption is zero

Startup and acceleration: The petrol engine operates in low-speed valve timing mode, with electric motor assist

Rapid acceleration: The petrol engine operates in high-speed valve timing mode, with motor assist

Low-speed cruising: The valves of all four of the engine’s cylinders are closed and combustion halted. The electric motor alone powers the vehicle

Gentle acceleration and high-speed cruising: The petrol engine operating in low-speed valve timing mode powers the vehicle.

Deceleration: The valves of all four of the engine’s cylinders are closed and combustion halted. The motor recovers the maximum amount of energy released during deceleration and stores it in the battery.

The Civic Hybrid EX is priced in the UK at £19,300 OTR. With its level of equipment, the closest rival to the EX is the Toyota Prius T Spirit, priced at £20,677.

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