• Aug 16, 2010
Honda Civic Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery

Late last week, we heard that Honda was updating the software in all 2006 through 2008 Civic Hybrids sold in the U.S. to prevent the batteries from wearing out sooner than expected. At the time, Honda spokeswoman Christine Ra told Bloomberg that the fix would not impact the car's fuel economy or performance. But is this the case?

According to a new Bloomberg report, the software update may indeed hurt gas mileage and acceleration; one driver said the update "made the car sluggish and slashed the vehicle's gas mileage." That driver claimed his car went from 45 miles per gallon to 33 after two of Honda's software updates, one last year and one several weeks ago. The 2008 Civic Hybrid is rated at 40/45 mpg (city highway), while the standard five-speed automatic 2008 Civic gets 25/36.

Honda is sticking to its guns. Honda spokesman Chris Martin told Bloomberg, "This is not just to prolong the life of the battery, it also helps improve the performance." The story is nowhere near over, as the California Air Resources Board is looking into whether the update increases vehicle emissions and thousands of other drivers get their software updates. Bloomberg notes that not everyone is reporting mpg decreases – some are even reporting increases – so the final word here has not yet been written.



[Source: LA Times]


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  • 13 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota had a similar issue back in 04. They toned down the battery performance on the GenII Prius in order to increase battery life. Some drivers noticed and were not happy.
      The pre update hybrid ECUs are a cult hit because they give you an edge when trying to maximize MPGs.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This update is an enigma, with some owners being very happy with the update while others are having problems (maybe due to their battery's condition, or ...?).

      I have an '09 Civic Hybrid, and had the update done about a month ago. My average fuel economy SINCE the update, comparing six tankfuls before the update and three tankfuls to-date after the update, my car's fuel economy has JUMPED from 39.14 MPG to 44.14. Same driving style and conditions, same weather, same AC use, etc. I also noticed much better power management in everyday use, compared with the '09 software.

      The blog and any reports should reflect that many Civic Hybrid owners are very pleased with the update performance.
        • 4 Years Ago
        well it could be possible.
        you shuld sue them. you were so happy with the better mpgs that you crashed into a tree.
        you will make a GAZILLION dollars. promised :D

        maybe it is the more refined battery management. would be really interesting. +5 mpg that is really good.
        i'd love to upgrade in that case.

        but same thing with the prius braking update. improves the feel of the brake.
        ppl panicked, but a lot of fud bout nothing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't care what anybody says, this is just the tip of the iceberg for this software problem and it's going to get ugly. Two weeks ago on the way home from the hospital with a sick child, my 2008 civic hybrid completely died as we were merging onto the Golden Gate Bridge in rush hour traffic. Finito, engine light on, nobody home, car all gone! We sat there in a total panic, being flipped off and screamed at by surrounding cars and finally after about 4 terrifying minutes, car magically restarted. Drove over the bridge and dropped the car at the dealership. I knew they would say thay drove it and it was fine and there wasn't a problem, and that's exactly what they said. I will never get in that car again. I know what I felt and it was absolutely terrifying, this software issue is going to be a huge problem. I trusted Honda and they've totally screwed me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      - Some of it is the software update.
      - Some of it is the fact that this is Summertime and we are running the AC.

      In the fall, when we turn off the AC we'll have a better handle on it......
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hi All,

      I have purchased a 2003 Civic Hybrid in May of 2002. It has 186,500 miles on it to this day. The IMA battery has been great up to 165,000 miles 1 Year ago where then it had stopped at times starting the engine. It has been replaced from one that was wrecked only costing 550 dollars. All updates have been done on it to this day. I have replaced 2 12 volt accessory batteries and the EGR servo valve at 120,000 miles. It has averaged over its life of 43 MPG. I expect to get 250,000 to 300,000 miles before I commit it to be melted to another car. I guess the car deserves a Calvin pee over OPEC or maybe BP on its window before it is sold. It has done its deed specially when gas was over 4 per gallon.

      Martin S.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is so silly and not much different from the iPhone antenna hysteria. Next we will see law suits based on nothing. The correction was already done for the 2009 and 2010 model years and their real world mileage has not been hurt. This is just going back to earlier models and bringing them up to current spec.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wish this were a "hot button" nonsense issue like the iPhone antenna.

      The sad fact is that my battery was having issues even before the update. Now, after the update, I cannot get over 30 MPG. I used to get high 40s and even got 56 mpgs once, so I'm not some hot-gunning lead foot driver complaining about my hybrid mileage.

      I am sure most people will probably not notice a big difference, especially if the battery is okay, but if the damage is already done, then there is a difference. For those who dispute that the battery could be damaged, then the logic behind the recall is enough to back up the possibility of damage.

      I am completely bummed. Still not sure what to do with this "lead brick" Honda HCH in my driveway....

      Cheers!
        • 4 Years Ago
        That really makes it sound like Honda is using software to extend the life of a failing battery. It seems to me that it would be easy to test a battery to determine its functioning. A malfunctioning battery should be replaced by Honda if it is still in warranty.

        It seems to me that if your fuel economy, calculated I hope and not just the readout on the dash, has dropped so drastically, then the battery is not participating and that means an unexpected decrease in performance, say, in passing performance. That is a safety hazard. If the dealer is uncooperative I would demand to talk to the distributor, and I would tell them you are going to file a complaint with NHTSA. And then file the complaint if you can't get any satisfaction.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, if i were you and had the car paid off, and the hybrid system was effectively dead weight and i was getting the MPG of a regular Civic, i'd remove the entire drivetrain, sell it for parts, and do an electric conversion!

        Think about it.. the chassis is fairly light without the hybrid stuff, and the car is optimized for aerodynamics already. It's a running start for an electric conversion.

        Or if you were cheap you could get away with gutting the hybrid system and running it off the 1.3L motor alone. Less rotating mass and a few hundred pounds off the chassis would probably improve the fuel economy to the point of being a little better than a Honda Fit. A japanese ECU for the car would prevent it from freaking out since the hybrid stuff is gone. ( In Japan, there are quite a few cars running that 1.3L engine ) .

        Just my two cents.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There may be info in your owner's manual about where or how to contact a Honda District Manager. But, the dealership can check your battery condition and give you a read out.

      Previously, I stated the 2010 Insight got up to 60 mpg on the highway, on the "instantaneous display". The problem with that is as a highway change's pitch from a slight incline to a slight decline, the number range is more like 45 mpg with slight incline, to 60 mpg with a decline in slope. So, the actual highway mileage is around 47-50 mpg, at speeds of 60-65 mph.

      During highway driving, with as little acceleration as possible, the gas engine does all the work, and at times the car will go into regen mode, while you're cruising.


      • 4 Years Ago
      Just keep rockin' it till the wheels fall off, Honda..
      • 4 Years Ago
      Whoa, how come the hot link to the 'new Bloomberg report' goes to L A Times?
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