Quieter, Cleaner, Cooler
The HS 1336i is Honda’s newest snowblower, combining a gasoline engine with two electric motors. The gasoline engine powers the snow-chomping blades at the front of the engine and charge the battery. Meanwhile, two small electric motors power the treads, freeing the gas engine from the torque-intensive duties of forward progress. The electric motors also double as generators during deceleration of the hybrid snowblower. While this isn’t the same hybrid tech found on cars like the Honda CR-Z, I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t at least some carryover in how the system was put together.
While Honda does not specifically mention how much in the way of fuel savings can be expected, power equipment is the next front in clean emissions technology. Current small-engine power equipment does not have to meet much in the way of emissions regulations (though that will change come 2013.) In addition to the hybrid tech, the Honda Snowblower also imports a few other goodies from its car cousins, like self-diagnostic monitoring system, which alerts the operator to conditions like low oil, carburetor problems, etc. etc.
It is likely this small Honda hybrid is just the tip of the iceberg. I expect to see hybrid lawn mowers (especially commercial mowers), ATV’s, and other power equipment to move either towards hybrid or alt-fuel technology as government regulations and high gasoline prices fuel interest in cleaner-burning engines. And aside from all of that, the hybrid tech lowers sound emissions as well, allowing for less noise on the job. As someone who has personally worked with big power equipment, I can say that any noise reduction is a boon to both workers and their neighbors.
Still, who would have thought a Honda snowblower would go hybrid? What power equipment would you like to see hybridized?