So Larry [one of Rick’s associates], your questions got me digging into the role of the CR-Z electric motor on the web.
The VTEC gas engine is the same as on the Fit, but red lined at 6300 rather than 6800.
The CR-Z electric motor is rated 13 HP at 1000 rpm, and 58 lb-ft at 1000-2000 rpm (!).
As you can see on the graph below, the electric motor does not contribute much to HP, just adding its 13 HP in a straight line. In fact, it might explain why redline is held at 6300. Or maybe something in the powertrain doesn’t like the higher RPM. Or maybe, because there is so much more torque, they want you to short shift and keep the cabin quieter. The CVT could be a problem, but Nissan seems to make it work with more power.
But look at the torque curve!
When you drive it, it feels like the 2 liter engine in my old RSX. Pulls great down low– nearly all from the electric side.
So you combine two prime mover types with opposite torque characteristics, and get the best of both. Neat engineering solution. Nobody is giving Honda credit for this.
But it looks like the tuners need to be careful. This is a complex system, not something you can hot-rod under a shade tree. There might be some reliability reason why Honda cut the redline short, otherwise I’m sure they would like to advertise an extra 10 max HP. Very conservative engineers.
All I can say is the small HP numbers don’t tell the story about the driving. My high school English teacher had a 59 VW convertible with 36 HP (40?) that was also a lot of fun to drive.
Rick Campbell, Creative.
Portland, Oregon USA