Honda Motor Company used the Tokyo Motor Show to announce is has begun a comprehensive reengineering program for all key powertrain elements used in its vehicles -- including diesel, hybrid and electric -- to achieve significantly better performance and efficiency. The goal of the effort, officially launched under the "Earth Dreams Technology" banner, the goal is to achieve industry-leading fuel efficiency in every vehicle category within three years while trimming CO2 emissions by 30 percent for its worldwide lineup by 2020.
Keys to meeting these ambitious "Earth Dreams Technology" benchmarks involve a host of design upgrades that span everything from trimming component weight and improving combustion technology to reducing internal/external friction and adopting direct injection, stop/start systems, Variable Timing Control and Atkinson Cycle timing where possible. Those efficiency-enhancing upgrades also will permit the move to smaller-displacement engines. To take full advantage of these new powerplants, Honda also has created three new CVT (Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission) transmissions for dedicated applications in its mini, compact and mid-sized vehicles.
On the hybrid front, "Earth Dreams Technology" will give rise to a new two-motor package suitable for mid-size hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles that Honda will launch in 2012 and 2013. The automaker also intends to introduce a new electric SH-AWD (Super Handling-All Wheel Drive) system for larger vehicles that features an electric motor at each rear wheel as well as a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine backed by a seven-speed automatic transmission fitted with a third electric motor. Finally, Honda has developed a new EV drivetrain that it says will deliver a 116 MPGe fuel economy figure, run 123 miles on a single charge in LA-4 Mode (Expect that number to fall closer to 70 miles in actual real-world conditions), and be able to replenish its advanced lithium-ion battery pack in less than three hours on a 240V line.