Hybrid technology will play a large part in Honda’s future plans, and the Japanese automaker has rolled out a preview of three new hybrid systems with different goals. There’s one for small cars, one with options, and one all about performance. This is a step in the right direction.
Honda seems to be the first automaker to realize that hybrid technology can serve a multitude of uses in different cars; it doesn’t have to be all about efficiency. That said, two of Honda’s three hybrid systems do stress fuel economy over performance, and with over a million Honda hybrids sold so far, it’s a good idea to stay the course…but to add in some variety too.
First up is the Intelligent Mode Hybrid system, which will debut on the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In. The engine and transmission have been designed to operate with the hybrid system in either EV, Engine, or Hybrid modes.
EV mode allows the driver to make the most of the limited battery, up to 15 miles. Hybrid mode uses the gas engine to charge the batteries and use the electric motors to drive the car, while Engine mode is dedicated to highway speeds and uses the engine itself to drive the car forward.
Honda is also developed the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system, with an eye towards performance. This system first appeared on the Acura NSX Concept, but will debut on the Acura RLX next year The Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system will use three electric motors, combined with a 3.5 liter V6 engine to deliver what Honda claims is V8-like performance with the fuel economy of a four-cylinder. With power going to all four-wheels, a V6 engine, and three electric motors, Honda claims the Sport Hybrid system will produce in the area of 370 horsepower, while returning combined gas mileage of 30 mpg. I’m lovin’ it.
Finally there is the intelligent dual-clutch drive, which will use a 7-speed transmission mated to a 1.5 liter Atkinson-cycle engine and a single high-output electric motor focused exclusively on efficiency. Honda is aiming for a low weight, and a 30% improvement in efficiency over the current one-motor hybrid systems. Look for this system to debut on one of Honda’s small cars, possibly the Fit, or the next-generation CR-Z.
With all these hybrid options, Honda has a little something for everyone. I believe that’s the point.