• Nov 20th 2008 at 12:31PM
  • 30
Click above for high-res image gallery of the Honda Insight Eco Assist dashboard

There's more to driving green than just the car you choose. The way you pilot the vehicle makes a huge impact on your fuel mileage, and automakers are now beginning to endow their new wares with technology that teaches you how to drive green. Honda's upcoming Insight is a perfect example, with its new Eco Assist dashboard that keeps tabs on the driver's right foot and relays information back via a color-changing speedometer and and "economy scoring function." Honda aims to make "the hybrid experience more fun and rewarding" with these technologies -- kinda like a video game -- that are activated by a green ECON button on the dash. When pressed, the CVT transmission changes modes and computers adjust the operation of the A/C, stop the engine from idling sooner and increases regenerative braking capabilities.

With this announcement, Honda joins Ford in the eco-dash wars. The Blue Oval recently revealed its LCD gauge cluster called SmartGauge with EcoGuide, which will debut in the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid. The tech wars are heating up fast and new innovations such as these green gauge clusters may make driving a rewarding experience for a completely new reason. Progress?

[Source: Honda]


Honda Insight to Introduce Ecological Drive Assist System in Spring 2009

Driver feedback system designed for fun and economy

American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced that a new interactive, driver-focused fuel economy enhancement technology named the Ecological Drive Assist System (Eco Assist™) will debut on the new Honda Insight in spring 2009.

The Honda Insight Concept, making its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, provides a strong indication of the design and styling of the all-new gasoline-electric hybrid model from Honda.

Eco Assist combines multiple functions: the driver-activated ECON mode that optimizes control of the continuously variable transmission, engine and related powertrain components to conserve fuel; and a feedback function that uses speedometer background color to provide real-time guidance on environmentally responsible driving. An economy scoring function further provides feedback about current driving techniques, as well as feedback on cumulative, long-term driving style.

"Hybrid drivers enjoy trying to get the most fuel economy from their vehicles," said Dan Bonawitz, vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "The visual nature of Eco Assist is intended to help drivers improve their efficient driving skills by making the hybrid experience more fun and rewarding."

Honda developed the powertrain control, driver guidance and driver feedback functions of Eco Assist to help enhance real-world fuel economy. In particular, the scoring function provides cumulative, long-term feedback through graphic 'leaves,' which grow over time as drivers learn and implement driving practices that increase fuel economy.

Activated by a green "ECON" button on the instrument panel, ECON mode optimizes control of the transmission, engine and other powertrain elements to conserve fuel. ECON mode also adjusts air conditioner operation, increases the potential for engaging the idle stop feature sooner and increase battery charging during regenerative braking.

The guidance function uses the speedometer background's color-changing, three-dimensional appearance to indicate fuel efficiency in real time. Fuel-saving activities like smooth acceleration and braking make the meter glow green. Somewhat less efficient driving makes the meter glow blue-green. Aggressive starts and stops that consume extra fuel make the meter glow blue. By observing the speedometer background's response to driving practices and seeking to achieve a consistently green color, drivers can receive assistance in developing driving habits that typically enhance fuel economy.

The scoring function provides feedback about current driving practices, as well as cumulative, long-term feedback tracking progress. Located in the center of the instrument panel of the all-new Insight, the Multi-Information Display offers drivers a selection of informational displays, including the scoring function, in which the number of 'leaves' displayed indicates the level of environmentally responsible driving performance. When the ignition switch is on, the display scores driving practices in real time. When the ignition switch is turned off, the 'leaves' in the top line of the display score driving in the just completed cycle (startup to shutdown), while a horizontal bar in the lower part of the display scores cumulative lifetime performance.

The Multi-Information Display also allows drivers to view fuel economy figures for the past three trips, as well as instantaneous and average fuel economy statistics. The scoring function encourages drivers to take an interest in developing fuel efficient driving habits over the long term.

Going on sale in North America next spring, the all-new, purpose-built Insight will come to market at a price significantly below that of hybrids available today. From this unique position in the marketplace, the Insight will advance the affordability and accessibility of hybrid technology to a new generation of buyers.

With its affordable price, the new hybrid vehicle will represent the best value in its segment. Along with the Civic Hybrid, the new vehicle will be produced at an expanded hybrid vehicle production line at the Suzuka factory in Japan.
The Insight is expected to have annual global sales of 200,000 units per year -approximately 100,000 in North America. Following the launch of the new Insight, Honda also plans to introduce another unique sporty hybrid vehicle based on the CR-Z, a concept car first shown at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.

The original Honda Insight was introduced in December 1999 as North America's first gas-electric hybrid car. The original Insight was designed from the ground up to demonstrate the ultimate potential for fuel-economy in a two-seater subcompact automobile.

A leader in the development of cleaner, more fuel-efficient mobility products, Honda was the first to market low-emission gasoline vehicles, a gasoline-electric hybrid car in North America, and the world's first EPA-certified hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, the FCX. In 2007, Honda was named "greenest automaker" by the Union of Concerned Scientists for the fourth straight time.

For more information and downloadable high-resolution images of the Insight Concept and other Honda vehicles, please visit www.hondanews.com. Consumer information is available at www.honda.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ugh, I would not want to have to stare at that dash everyday. And why do the dashboards in newer Hondas have to be so "tall"? Dashboard gauges should be kept below the line of sight of the top of the steering wheel. Above the steering wheel should be the lip of the dash and then just windshield. When I drive, I look at the road and other drivers which is enough information to take in. Really, looking at the road and anticipating the actions of others on the highway demands a lot of attention, and the fewer things to distract me the better. I only occasionally look at dashboard gauges, including the speedo (if I'm in a certain gear and I can hear the engine well enough I generally know what speed I'm driving).

      Also, the idea of an "economy scoring function" is useful and neat, as long as it works (and doesn't over-exaggerate fuel savings). I'd be curious to see just how accurate it is. Hopefully it will be better than goofy "MPG gauges" in cars from the past few decades.
      • 6 Years Ago

      I think I used to have that as my WinAmp skin.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That dash is not going to work in America.
        • 6 Years Ago
        What happened to "We make it simple."?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I completely disagree . . the new generation of Americans are more used to technology than not. We can walk up to any computer by the time we're 8 and know how to use it. Anyone can pick up an iPhone and understand it off the bat. Baby boomers won't be driving cars soon anyway.
      • 6 Years Ago
      the dash design aside, the eco assist system is weird.

      not bad, just.... different

      almost like an in-car video game that is based on how economically you're driving. there was a small demo of it at the show. it will be interesting to gauge the effect of such a system on people's driving habits. apparently there are reports of people who own priuses who watch their synergy drive display and MPG gauge more than their MPH gauge in order to achieve maximum fuel economy. this would explain the prius-rage that occurs when a prius is inexplicably driving at 50mph on the freeway
      • 6 Years Ago
      What will be next? Electric shocks administered through the steering wheel, when you accelerate too fast?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, there goes any chance of me buying one.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yeah... cut down the steering wheel physical control, to show off the fancy graphics...

      And why not just have HUD, if they are going to display the speed higher than the rest of the dash...
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am about ready to pull the trigger on a Hybrid and would prefer a Honda over a Toyota for my own reasons. This seems like a pretty nice design and would let me do my part since 95% of my driving is in the City.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Looks pretty much like fusion of the Civic & Fit dash. They should have put some control features on the steering wheel.
      • 6 Years Ago
      way too much obstruction. you need a second story on top of your dashboard why?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I couldn't see where you put the quarters in to start the game??
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hmm this feature sounds like some good ideas, it sounded even better when Toyota put it on the Camry HV in 2008. When you drive the Camry HV more efficiently, the lights in the dash display change thier shade of blue. There is also a ECON button in the car that changes the way the supplemental systems work to gain more efficiency. Maybe they can also use these features in Honda's new Prius, I mean hybrid. Nice work Honda, good press too.
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