Kurt Verlin
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2020 Honda Fit e:HEV Inspired by F1 Tech

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2020 Honda Fit e:HEV
Photo: Honda

The Honda Fit e:HEV hatchback, unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, uses a two-motor hybrid system that works alongside its usual 1.5-liter combustion engine. According to Yasuaki Asaki, Honda’s head of power unit development, the automaker looked to its Formula 1 program for inspiration when building this new roadgoing powertrain.

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Honda currently supplies engines for two F1 teams: Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri, the former having won three races last year. F1 racing cars have very little in common with those Honda makes for the road, yet Asaki says the company was able to apply its F1 expertise to optimize the Fit’s power delivery.

The Honda Fit e:HEV’s hybrid system comes with three driving modes — EV Drive, Hybrid Drive, and Engine Drive — designed to offer the best combination of fuel efficiency and performance in a variety of driving scenarios. For example, in Engine Drive, the electric motor provides on-demand peak power, which is best suited for the highway. In Hybrid Drive, excess power generated by the 1.5-liter engine can recharge the battery.

The Fit features an electronic control unit built to seamlessly switch between modes while on the go, but for the car to know exactly when to switch to what mode can be tricky. That’s where Asaki says Honda’s F1 expertise proved useful.

“During a Formula 1 race weekend teams have to manage very carefully how much fuel they use to comply with the sport’s regulations,” he explained. “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.”

According to Asaki, communication between driver and race engineer is key to achieving the perfect balance during a race. But lacking such communication on regular roads, Honda was able to use its F1 experience to make do and “deliver the best possible power to efficiency ratio for the driver, in any required driving mode.”

Unfortunately, the 2020 Honda Fit e:HEV is currently not offered in the United States. It seems that in America, F1-inspired technology is, for now, doomed to the same neglect as the sport itself.

Related: Learn more about the U.S.-sold Honda Fit