Speaking to members of the press at the company's headquarters in Tokyo, Honda Motor President and CEO Takanobu Ito provided new insight into the firm's future hybrid vehicle programs and also touched on several other aspects of Honda's upcoming products, including the fuel-cell powered EV model due to launch in Japan, Europe and America.
Ito indicated that while Honda will continue to exploit efficiency advances in its internal combustion engines and transmissions through the use of various "next-generation" technologies, it also plans to leverage those gains with three different strains of purpose-dedicated hybrid powertrain configurations that rely on one, two and three electric motors, respectively. These will all be on sale by 2017.
Entry point in the Honda hybrid family will be an even more advanced take on the existing IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) package. Designed for smaller vehicles, this 1-motor system will deliver enhanced performance and greater EV driving range through improved motor and battery designs as well as a new generation of transmission and enhanced regenerative energy recovery.
One rung up in scale is the more powerful 2-motor system that will launch here in the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid Sedan and later in the 2014 Accord Hybrid Sedan. The firm called upon its extensive experience in commercial generator technology to integrate a compact inverter capable of accommodating external power supply. Topping Honda's hybrid triumvirate is the performance-focused, 3-motor Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) system that will debut in the upcoming Acura NSX and also appear in the Acura RLX Sport Hybrid and the successor model Acura Legend which will be introduced in Japan.
For a look at the Honda's ultimate performance hybrid, check out the Acura NSX Concept here.
What else is in the Honda future-product automotive pipeline? As part of its initiative to increase both its global market penetration and overall fuel economy stats, Ito says the firm will launch a new-gen Fit (aka Jazz) subcompact next year in Japan with region-specific variations to hit showrooms here by mid-2014. We'll also see an all-new fuel-cell powered EV in 2015 and a full refresh/redesign of all models in the Acura lineup within the next 36 months. As for things we won't be seeing here, Honda plans to introduce a new EV powered micro-mini commuter in Japan in 2013 as well as six new mini cars in the home market, including a new sports roadster "with strong vehicle dynamics." Also on tap is a new Civic Type-R for the European market being developed "with the goal of becoming the fastest front-wheel-drive vehicle on the Nurburgring race course."