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A hybrid power system for an automobile can have a series configuration or a parallel configuration. With a series system, an engine drives a generator, which in turn powers a motor, whose output propels the vehicle. With a parallel system, the engine and motor can both be used to propel the vehicle. The Insight employs a parallel system that is described by Honda as the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system.
The IMA system is one of the most technologically advanced parallel hybrid power systems in the world. By employing techniques such as brake-energy regeneration to maximize the efficiency with which energy is used, it combines low-pollution, low-cost operation with high levels of safety and running performance.
The main parts of the Insight's IMA system are:
A thin design motor/generator is located between the 3-cylinder engine and the 5 speed manual transmission. A Ni-MH battery module is used for supplying electricity to the motor during assist mode and for storing regenerated power.
A DC-DC converter is used to produce 12v power required by the Insight's 12v system. All high voltage components of the IMA system are collectively located behind the seats in the IPU (Intelligent Power Unit) box.