2003 Honda IMAS Concept Car

The Honda IMAS from the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show was a concept designed to explore fuel efficient petrol-electric hybrid technology. And like any good hybrid, the IMAS has an impressive fuel economy, capable of traveling 50 miles on 1/2 a gallon of fuel (40km per litre).

The IMAS achieves this impressive mpg with the help of a low drag coefficient, just 0.20, and a lightweight body constructed from carbon-fibre and aluminium.

Honda says that it drew inspiration for the IMAS concept car from the bicycle, a responsive mode of transport that makes it easy to get where you need to go while doing minimal damage to the environment. While the IMAS still does more damage than your average bike through its use of petroleum, it is yet another application of Honda’s gas/electric Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system — and this time the company claims to have used this technology to create a fun-to-drive sports car rather than a basic urban runabout like the Civic Hybrid or Insight.

Of course, to look at the IMAS is to see a more futuristic version of the Insight, and Honda was mum on the all-important matters of engine size, horsepower and suspension components, offering only the assurance that this is an exceptionally lightweight sports car. Built mostly with carbon fiber and aluminum, the IMAS weighs in at approximately 1,542 pounds — about 300 pounds lighter than the Insight. And its coefficient of drag is said to be just 0.20 compared to the Insight’s 0.25. Honda estimates fuel economy at 40 kilometers per liter, which works out to about 94 mpg — far more frugal than any production gas/electric hybrid we’ve seen thus far. An electronically controlled throttle works with a shaftless variable gear steering system (VGS) to produce precise throttle response and handling, according to Honda.

Inside the two-person cockpit, designers wanted the car to have the “naked interior of a road racer,” and as such, there are many exposed metal components. The instrument panel and the navigation screen mounted on top of the dash are constructed of thin, transparent material. And the steering wheel assumes an aeronautical design, rather than the usual doughnut.

Scribbled on June 16th 2008 in Honda, Honda IMAS
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