At the heart of the Insight's sophisticated IMA system is a compact, 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder gasoline automobile engine. The engine uses advanced lean-burn VTEC-E technology, low-friction design features and lightweight materials such as aluminum, magnesium and special plastics, in combination with a new lean-burn-compatible NOx catalyst, to achieve a new level of efficiency and low emissions in gasoline-engine technology.
The electric component of the IMA system consists of an ultra-thin, 2.3-inch/60-mm-wide permanent-magnet electric motor operating in parallel with the gasoline engine. Electricity for the motor is stored in a 144-volt nickel-metal hydride battery pack and controlled via an advanced electronic Power Control Unit (PCU). Unlike a pure battery-powered electric vehicle, the Insight does not require an outside source of electric power. Electricity for the system is generated primarily by regenerative braking.
The Insight's IMA system incorporates an idle-stop feature that shuts off the engine under certain circumstances in order to conserve fuel and reduce unwanted exhaust emissions. The system activates when the Insight is stopped, the shift lever is placed in neutral and the driver removes his or her foot from the clutch pedal. When the driver is ready to drive away, engaging the clutch pedal and puffing the car in gear starts the engine again.