Japanese automaker Honda has had a rough time of it lately, especially when it comes to hybrids. Not only has the Prius-fighting Insight and sporty CR-Z failed to gain traction in the marketplace, but lawsuits against the Honda Civic Hybrid have seriously hurt resale values.
But Honda is hoping a new generation of hybrid technology will get them back in the game. Thing is, Honda isn’t talking details. Who wants to play “Wild speculation!” with me?
All Honda execs will say is that the new hybrid system is both simple, and effective, which they say will help it set a new standard when it comes to fuel efficiency. Sounds like typical corporate blustering, though it would be unwise to count Honda out just yet.
In fact, Honda has a history of innovative drivetrains, chief among them the Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion, or CVCC engine. This “stratified charge engine” injects fuel into the cylinder near the spark plug just prior to emission. Back in the 1970s, this allowed Honda to forgo using both catalytic converters and costly fuel injection systems, helping turn the small automaker into a corporate juggernaut.
Can Honda repeat its past successes with a new, simplified hybrid system? Perhaps. The current Honda hybrid system has roots from way back in 1999. While it has no doubt been tweaked and tuned for optimal performance, it sounds like Honda has started with a blank slate.
The next Honda hybrid system could appear as early as the end of 2013 in the new Honda Fit subcompact. Can this new hybrid technology give Honda the kick in the ass it needs? I certainly hope so. My recent and all-too-brief experience with a 1998 Honda Accord has made me a believer in the legacy of simple reliability that made Honda so popular.
Hopefully Honda can recapture some of that lost magic, bottle it, and make a lot of money off of it to people needing a cheap, simple, and reliable automobile.