The Honda two motor hybrid system used in the Accord Hybrid and Accord Plug-in Hybrid has been significantly updated for use in the new Honda Odyssey Hybrid that went on sale in Japan earlier this month. Compared to the old system, the new power control unit, which includes the electric motors, is 23% smaller and 27% lighter than the one in the Accord Hybrid, Honda tells Automotive News. The intelligent power unit, which includes the lithium ion battery, is 11 percent smaller and 6 percent lighter.
Honda calls its new system the Sport Hybrid i-MMD powertrain. It claims the improvements result in better power and fuel economy. Honda could utilize the updated system in a future version of the Accord, but nothing has been decided yet hybrid engineer Jiro Kuroki told Automotive News during a test drive. The company expects fully one half of its domestic Odyssey sales will be hybrids.
The Japanese Odyssey is a very different vehicle than what Honda sells in the US. It’s a smaller car built on a completely different platform. It is marketed in 22 countries around the world, mostly in Asia and the Middle East. Honda has no plans to add a hybrid to the U.S. version because it doesn’t see any demand for it, Kuroki said. That could change in a hurry, though, if customers start flocking to the new Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid van that is due in showrooms later this year.
Oddly enough, Honda led the hybrid vehicle parade earlier this century when it introduced the original Insight. That car has a single electric motor. Since then, two motor systems are all the rage, with the Chevy Volt leading the way. However, Hyundai is bucking the trend by going back to a single motor in its new Ioniq hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. Hyundai says using one motor enables a significant saving in manufacturing costs.
Honda also announced that the batteries for its new hybrid cars will be sourced from Panasonic, rather than Yuasa, which provided batteries for the prior hybrid system used in the Accord. Panasonic also provided the battery for the Honda Fit Hybrid.