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Interview Jazz Hybrid's Chief Engineer Shingo Nagamine

POSTED BY admin ON 16 March 2012

Shingo Nagamine, during the launch yesterday.

In Honda, the role of a chief engineer is given the title LPL, for Large Project Leader. Mr. Shingo Nagamine is the LPL responsible for the Jazz Hybrid. In conjunction with the launch, CBT, along with several other local publications were invited by the good folks at Honda Malaysia for an opportunity to interviewed Mr. Shingo Nagamine.

The interview was conducted in English via the assistance of a English-Japanese translator.

What are the changes / modifications done from the standard Jazz to the Jazz Hybrid?
SN : The Jazz Hybrid features improved aerodynamics, which is now 3 percent better than before. The front and rear bumpers now have a sharper corner, while the lower air dam and grille are further optimized to direct air flow over and under the car.

As the IMA battery is located in the rear below the boot floor, the rear body section has been stiffened. The rear suspension is also modified slightly, with a different damper setting. Overall suspension stiffness however remains the same. The front section of the chassis has also been strengthened with additional stiffening material.

Having said that, because of the rear mounted battery, the Jazz Hybrid has a better front-rear weight balance.

How much heavier does the Jazz Hybrid weigh over a standard Jazz?
SN : The Jazz Hybrid is 70 kg heavier. However, the weight penalty is cancelled out with the use of low rolling resistance tire and low drag brake calipers.

Can you elaborate more on how the low drag caliper works?
SN : Conventional brake calipers always remain slightly in contact with the brake rotors. In a low drag caliper design, the spring is slightly modified to further reduce this constant contact. Braking performance however, is not compromised.

Although there are already over 9,000 hybrids on the road in Malaysia, many consumers are still doubtful of the reliability of the hybrid battery in our humid climate. What is your comment regarding this concern?
SN : The humidity level does not affect durability of the battery. Honda has already conducted extensive tests on the battery to ensure a reliable performance under Malaysian driving condition. Plus, the battery is enclosed in its casing within the car itself and is not directly exposed to external conditions. There is also a ventilation duct from the battery to the cabin area, drawing cool air-conditioned air into the battery. A fan also provides active cooling.

Can you elaborate more on the durability tests done?
SN : Prior to launching in Malaysia, the Jazz Hybrid has been tested extensively in Thailand, which has a climate similar to Malaysia. Driving tests in extreme conditions of everyday urban driving, under high ambient temperature and bad traffic jam were also done.

How safe is the Jazz Hybrid in flooded roads, which is rather common in Malaysia. Will there be any risk of electrocution?
SN : Like any normal car, there is no problem if the water level is below the vehicle’s chassis. However under very extreme conditions, water may enter the battery enclosure area. If this happens, the system will automatically shutdown completely, thus there is no risk of electrocution.

Note from CBT : We wouldn’t drive any car, whether petrol or hybrid powered, across heavily flooded area.

Considering the hybrid battery is located under the boot in the rear, how safe is this in the event of a rear impact collision?
SN : If you look at the side profile view of the car, you will notice the diameter of the tire is bigger than the battery. Thus, on top of the body structure, the tires provide additional cushioning for the battery.

Who is the hybrid battery supplier for the Jazz Hybrid?
SN : The battery is made by Sanyo in Japan.

What are the criteria considered before Honda decides on manufacturing hybrid models outside Japan?
The most important is having a strong battery manufacturing base. The country has to be able to process and recycle disposed batteries in a safe way.

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