Three New Hybrids To Join Honda Fleet
Honda has a new small hybrid scheduled for release, a product whose details will be announced later in 2008.
However, there are a few things we do know about the unnamed vehicle, specifically that its reduced weight is the key to the car’s anticipated success, resulting in the what Honda says will be the most affordable hybrid vehicle developed yet.
Like the Toyota Prius, the new Honda model will be a dedicated hybrid vehicle and offered as a 5-door hatchback. Seating will be for five passengers and the vehicle will take its styling cues from the current FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle (pictured, top).
The new hybrid model will have an expected annual global sales build of 200,000 units per year – with about half the vehicles to be delivered to the North American market. Soon thereafter, Honda plans to introduce another unique small hybrid vehicle which will be based on the CR-Z sports car that made its debut at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show as well as a hybrid Fit (second photo). Including the current Civic Hybrid, these four hybrid vehicles are expected to reach combined annual global sales approaching 500,000 units.
“Honda has been at the forefront of hybrid development since it first introduced the American public to hybrid technology with the Insight in 1999,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. “These new advancements in Honda’s technology and production systems will result in cost reductions that will allow us to make hybrid technology available to a whole new generation of buyers.”
Taking advantage of reductions in the size of key components, the battery and the internal processing unit will be positioned below the rear cargo area, allowing the hatchback design to provide adequate cargo space for occupants. Moreover, select technologies, including a function to assist more fuel efficient driving, are being installed which are expected to help the vehicles realize additional improvements in fuel efficiency.
The new hybrid will be produced at a newly developed second Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) production line at Honda’s Suzuka factory in Japan, which currently produces the Civic Hybrid. With the second line in operation and improvements in IMA production efficiency, hybrid production capacity at Suzuka will increase from 70,000 vehicles per year to approximately 250,000 units, with future factory expansion available if demand warrants it.