Comparison with engine model

2018 PCX Hybrid test ride impressions

On 8th August 2018, a test ride event for the PCX Hybrid was held in Tokyo. First of all, the editorial team compared the engine PCX model with the PCX Hybrid model, both sold as lightweight category 125cc bikes. Also, we’ll let you know about some fresh news that has been made public.   

(Impressions) Isn’t this hybrid astounding?

The PCX petrol (125cc) model was also test ridden at the same time, but the initial charge was more overwhelming for the PCX hybrid. The engine assist kicks in for four seconds from opening the throttle, and of course you feel a considerable amount of extra power output from the motor, and thanks to the adoption of the hybrid system it kicks in quickly when restarting the engine from idling stop. Also, because the meeting time for the centrifugal clutch is fast, even if you crack open the throttle at the same time with the petrol model, it’s as if the PCX hybrid is flying as it proceeds forward. You can tell even from the first sprint how the Hybrid excels.

From there on the acceleration power is mostly the same, but there’s a “secret trick” up the sleeve of the PCX Hybrid. As mentioned earlier, because the motor assist “kicks in for four seconds”, it means that if you let off the throttle a touch after the assist has paused and then open it again immediately, the motor assist kicks in again. If you keep repeating this, then you can gradually make up even more distance from the petrol model. While taking a peek every so often at the assist level on the meter display and making the motor run at its full power, it’s amazing to see what potential you can get out of the bike, and you feel fully immersed in the ride.

However, what we wouldn’t want you to misunderstand is that the PCX Hybrid is not merely a naughty scooter that is quick at getting away from the lights. The regeneration action that charges the on/off motor assist and the lithium battery have been tuned so well that you absolutely cannot feel its intervention, and there is no immediate surge in power or abrupt unnatural feeling about it. So the biggest thing we should focus our attention on is how the development team have produced such precise and natural controls, and how it is in the realm of having the same acceleration as the PCX150 even though it is a lighter model, and you can get a feeling of how very high quality this bike is.

(Honda PCX Hybrid   2018 Japan spec   Price: Approx $3,900) The 2018 model PCX comes with a smart key and double-cradle frame, and has a high power lithium ion battery that acts as an energy source that is added as a function to cope with starting of the engine and to bear the generation of driving force assist from the ACG starter.

The junction unit is convenient and user-friendly at times of emergency, so even in the event of electric power from the lithium ion battery being unable to be provided, starting can be carried out from the 12V lead battery. The down regulator lowers the electric pressure provided from the lithium ion battery from 48V to 12V. Due to this, it is possible to provide electric power from the lithium ion battery for general electronic fitted parts like the headlights, tail lights and lead battery.

(Development aims) Concept

The things that the PCX Hybrid has been aiming at are precisely revolved around giving an enjoyable riding experience. It has inherited the “personal comfort saloon” concept from the first generation PCX, and has an evolved comfort and high quality ride from the PCX petrol engine model that was released for sale in April, giving this an enhanced riding feel in the commuter class. In order to achieve these aims, the hybrid systems began as a mass scale bike development, with torquey power characteristics thanks to the engine and hybrid motor that respond smoothly to the rider’s input.

Not only does this have the ACG starter of the predecessor with a strengthened 48V battery spec that starts the engine, it is also able to assist in the driving force acceleration.

(Development aims) Hybrid system motor

The aims of the hybrid system that have been announced on this occasion are the effective and compact system package that is placed in the body of the PCX. Also, while inheriting the top ride quality of the PCX it has been published how it displays a high power ability, which is typical of a hybrid. This adds more to the petrol engine model that starts up and generates its power from the driving force assist ACG starter functions. Also, by the adoption of the hybrid driving force motor’s electromagnetic steel sheet in the core of the stator, it makes for an exclusive high efficiency motor, implementing a compact unit without changing the fundamental structure.

The motor assist has been designed exclusively on the predecessor ACG starter. The lithium ion battery uses electric power supplied from the motor, and through the 48V voltage supplied it implements a torquey assist. Also, the 48V battery works in unity with the conventional 12V battery to function as power for starting up and generating power. By use of an electromagnetic steel sheet in the iron core of the stator, (much the same as what is used for a four wheel hybrid) it offers little iron loss, and makes for a high efficiency motor.

(Development aims) Hybrid system battery-pack

Within the energy source of the motor assist power output to the engine, it adopts a high output 48V lithium ion battery. Thanks to the lithium ion battery and battery management unit stored in the lithium ion battery pack, a compact battery pack has been achieved. This means that a full-face helmet can be stored in the 23-litre capacity luggage box, along with offering a good general loading space considering the body size of the PCX is limited, being only a 125cc.

The lithium ion battery and battery management unit (BMU) are organised in the battery pack. Other than the BMU functioning to protect the lithium ion battery, it plays the role of sending any remaining residual quantity and heat condition information to the PDU. These are all arranged and stored within a watertight battery pack, making for a compact unit.

(Development aims) Hybrid system operation

When accelerating, the rider’s throttle operation and angle is detected by the throttle sensor, and the Power Drive Unit (PDU) calculates the best torque assist based on the situation of the engine and battery. Due to this, the lithium ion battery acts as an energy source, the ACG starter and assist motor make the driving force, and the engine becomes assisted. Other than when cruising, accelerating, or decelerating, the charging for the lithium ion battery   is generated by the ACG motor, and the PDU is used as an intermediary so the lithium ion battery can charge.

The PDU is equipped with a control function that integrates with the power source of the hybrid system, the engine and motor. When it is in the cycle of controlling the engine ignition or fuel injection, the control system of the 48V motor that deals with the driving force and generation of power is all collected by the PDU.

(Development aims) Power ability distinctive of a hybrid

As the illustration shows, due to the motor assist that focuses on lower gear speeds, it kicks out the most at 4000rpm, around 33%, and the torque is the highest at 5000rpm, around 22%. The timing of the assist means that max torque continues for the first three seconds from opening the throttle, and then over the next one second the system is made to reduce. The engine assist is set-up to match the throttle opening amount, and it preserves the same level of easy-to-use handling as the PCX, while being able to carry out excellent acceleration. Also, it combines with the heightened torque, and has an exclusively designed driven-face. In contrast to the PCX petrol model, the quietness and high quality feel is further improved with the hybrid model.

Thanks to the motor assist on the PCX Hybrid, compared with the petrol model it has heightened take-off acceleration and mid-speed acceleration, and exhibits surpassed power ability. It turned out that from a 0 – 50m sprint there is a 4m difference, and after accelerating for 200m from a riding speed of 40kph there was a 7m gap.

(Development aims) Implementation of time-saving from the hybrid

Not only can the motor assist be seen in performance number times, when taking-off, unlike the predecessor model that took till about the fourth firing until the clutch would meet, the hybrid does it around the third firing. It implements a direct acceleration feeling that no other scooter in this class has done so up till now. Also, the faster clutch meet timing not only operates when running, but it also contributes to shortening the time until the idling stop is activated, and the fuel consumption and quietness levels are also improved.

Not only does the hybrid model shorten the time till the clutch meets from opening the throttle, the previous model required three seconds from stopping till the idling stop was activated, whereas this model has shrunk this time down massively to 0.5 seconds.

(Development aims) Mode select conversion for particular hybrid assist

The PCX Hybrid has three assist modes that the rider can select upon depending on the road conditions and their preference. For a relaxed and comfortable ride setting that assists a moderate amount, choose D mode. If you want to feel a stronger sporty feel with higher speed and enjoyment, choose S mode. Also, there is the idling mode that doesn’t activate the idling stop. These modes can be operated from the mode change switch on the left handlebar. You can change these modes even while riding to suit the scene, whether it’s in traffic or a winding road.

The torque peak doesn’t change in each of the modes, but there are changes in the characteristics in the mid-range of D and S modes.

News coverage: Honda Research Centre / Honda Motorcycles Japan

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本誌編集長。雑誌は生き残りタイアップ全盛期だというのに、ひとり次期型ネタを嗅ぎまわって反感を買う現代のスクープ魔王。
■1972年生まれ
■愛車:BMW R100GS(1988)

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