Honda is preparing to launch a flurry of new hybrid offerings during the next year, and all will be fitted with an advanced form of the firm's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) package that's smaller, lighter and considerably less expensive to produce than the system currently being used on the Civic Hybrid. The automaker has remained tight-lipped about styling and feature specifics on these future vehicles, which include a Prius-fighting five-door sedan, a sporty coupe based on the CR-Z concept (pictured here) and later, a hybrid version of the Fit. However, it did use the corporate mid-year financial update meeting to offer some insight on the redesigned IMA system that will be used to power them.
Although the new setup retains the same basic concept of sandwiching a motor/generator unit between the conventional gasoline engine and the automatic transmission, Honda says the hardware itself will be far more compact thanks to simplified architecture, a thinner motor/generator unit, and a smaller and lighter controller and battery pack. New platform architecture on these vehicles will further optimize the gains by allowing those latter two elements to be located below the rear cargo floor, thereby increasing usable cabin space.
Beyond cost reductions realized on the materials side of the equation, Honda Motor Corporation's Executive Vice President Koichi Kondo also noted that significant savings would come from advances in the IMA assembly processes. Honda is now completing work on a second line at its IMA production facility in Suzuka, Japan, which will boost its annual capacity to 250,000 units. Ultimately, the firm wants to reduce the cost premium on its hybrid vehicles to around $1,900, or about half its present level.