A Few More Details about Honda’s Upcoming Plug-in Hybrid

By · June 08, 2011

Honda announced at last year’s L.A. auto show that it make and sell an all-electric Honda Fit, as well as a full-size sedan using plug-in hybrid technology. The Fit should make a fantastic platform for a pure EV, but we haven’t had many details about what the plug-in hybrid will look like, or its features. This week’s Automotive News fills in a few of those blanks, while leaving lots of questions unanswered.

For all the promise of plug-in hybrid technology—offering a lot of electric driving capabilities, but still providing driving range on par with an ICE car—there are only two competing designs: the Chevy Volt with a relatively large battery pack, and a Prius Plug-in Hybrid with a smaller pack and a blended approach to using electric and gas. The Honda system bears more resemblance to Toyota’s approach.

Here are a few snippets about Honda’s entry into the plug-in hybrid market.

Platform – Honda is currently using an Accord as a test platform. The Accord was modified with an aluminum hood as well as other unspecified weight reductions. The plug-in hybrid still weighs 330 pounds more than the gas version of the Accord.

Battery & Range – Its 6 kWh lithium ion battery pack is placed behind the back seat, and encroaches upon the truck space. It’s about the size of a “suitcase,” and currently configured to run up to 62 mph in all-electric mode for about 15 miles, which Honda believes will “satisfy about 70 percent of its users.”

System – The large sedan plug-in hybrid will use a two motor system (unlike Honda’s current single motor hybrid system). The traction motor is 120 kilowatts (compared to Volt’s 111 kW). It’s combined with a 2-liter four-cylinder engine and a CVT transmission.

Sales Target - According to Automotive News, Honda’s new larger two-motor hybrid system—which comes out first as a plug-in hybrid but will also be used on conventional hybrids as well—will help the company expand hybrid sales from its current 5 percent take rate, to around 10 percent of global sales by 2015.


· · 6 years ago

"currently configured to run up to 62 mph in all-electric mode for about 15 miles, which Honda believes will “satisfy about 70 percent of its users.”".
Too bad that 30% of it's users won't be satisfied with their purchase. That won't be good for sales. I'll also go as far as to suggest that about 98% won't even be satisfied enough to even buy this.
I think Honda has another Accord Hybrid disaster in this. They just don't seem to get it do they.

· Maybe this? (not verified) · 6 years ago

If the motor is a turbo (bio) diesel with that electric drive (with luxury quiet and smoothness at low speeds), you'd get about 250 hp of max torque off the line, instantaneous responsiveness , close to the ground and vehicle center weight for superb handling, midrange turbo punch, high speed diesel efficiency and the ability for the powertrain to not notice high altitude long inclines at all. This is for mainstream drivers and performance and luxury enthusiasts and it won't be cheap for gen 1. It's not its fault if it's accidentally good for the planet compared to ye olde full gasser.

ex-EV1 drivers can currently chose between a Leaf or Tesla Roadster or a few others if they want pure electric. Or get a Volt if you want more electric range in a plug in hybrid. There's more than enough configurations possible that each one doesn't have to satisfy 100% of the genuinely new vehicle market - we do have more than one make and model of vehicle on the planet historically.

· · 6 years ago

@Maybe this,
The problem is that this piece of junk, like the plug-in Prius, won't do normal freeway speeds without running the ICE. People who pay more for the plug-in are not going to want to burn gasoline. People who never go freeway speeds probably won't be as motivated to spend the extra $$$ for a plug-in today.
As I said, this will follow Honda's Accord Hybrid disaster even when other hybrids were flying off the lot. Just being a plug-in doesn't make something good anymore than just being a hybrid did back in the '00's.

· · 6 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver · "People who never go freeway speeds probably won't be as motivated to spend the extra $$$ for a plug-in today"

Well, we don't know that. Remember, Ford is also following the same philosophy with their c-max Energi, that I'm interested in (the only plugin CUV coming out). Between using no gas but at a high price (aka Volt) and using small amount of gas but at a lower price, the market might decide to chose the latter. People aren't always "purity hawks" like us.

· · 6 years ago

Is there any news on the Fit EV? Do the people in Torrance like theirs? It seems like everything ended in December when Torrance got a test car. Maybe Honda had them sign a wild NDA. :)

As for my opinion on the Accord hybrid. Well, I can't even afford a regular gas Accord. If I could afford an Accord, I'd make a spreadsheet and plot out how much I'd save with that 10-15 miles of $1.32 EV fuel versus the extra cost of the plugin and hybrid nature. If it saves money that's good, if not it's just sort of a novelty. If Honda prices it to benefit the customer then maybe it's a nice car to complement a pure EV in the garage.

· · 6 years ago

I'd be happy for a plugin-car where I could go 15-25 miles all electric even if it had to turn the ICE engine on for anything 55+. I would still be able to do a huge amount of driving without using any gas.

· Dave K. (not verified) · 6 years ago

Seems like if you had a 120kw motor you would configure it to go faster than 62 mph, that could easily push an Accord to 100mph. None the less as a Prius PHEV driver I can tell you that a blended plugin hybrid works really well! I get well over 100mpg in daily driving, often the engine only runs during hill climbing and acceleration, and my 10kwhr battery charges overnight on a 120V outlet. If they price it right this could appeal to a lot of main stream people.

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 6 years ago

This article is clearly pointing to an evident market lack. A void that is currently not filled by any mass produced car. We have the low level plug-in hybrid Prius, the standard level plug-in hybrid Volt and we have the plug-in EV Leaf, but we still miss the high level plug-in hybrid. Basically an EV with 75 miles autonomy and a small range extender. As nature doesn’t like voids, there is here a clear market that still waits to be filled up.

· · 6 years ago

Oh, no, no, no! Not Accord Sedan! It would be a disaster!

If they put this kind of battery in the Sedan trunk there will be not much space left in the trunk and you block access from trunk to passenger salon! The car will be almost useless - no versatility at all! It would be a disaster!

Just look how many Hybrid Sedans are sold - very few! Now Toyota makes a midsize Wagon - Prius V and there is a few months preorder list - 10,000! And how many Camry Sedan Hybrids sold in Japan? Almost none.

Prius V or Accord Wagon - will be an ideal platform for this Plug-In or CR-V.

Anything but a Sedan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. 25-35 miles plug-in range is the best for me. 15 miles is too small for me. With 15 miles range I get 80 MPG - with 30 miles I get 140 MPG.

· · 6 years ago

@Priusmaniac (not verified) · "Basically an EV with 75 miles autonomy and a small range extender."

This won't come for a long time from any auto major. 75 miles would require quite a bit of space leaving little for the engine etc. This means the car has to be bigger, which increases the weight even further.

That is the reason you will find only expensive cars with large range in the next 5 years.

· · 6 years ago

EVNow: "This won't come for a long time from any auto major"

How's three years? The BMW i3 will have a 100-120 mile range and you will be able to order it with a range extender(rumored to be a 3cyl turbo) shortly after the initial launch. They are putting the range extender in the front trunk area that is empty and used for storage in the BEV i3. You'll lose the front trunk space so you won't have the 14.1 cubic feet that's in the original i3, but there is still the hatchback area.

· · 6 years ago

@Tom "How's three years?"

As I said ...

"That is the reason you will find only expensive cars with large range in the next 5 years."

We will have to wait to see how i3 + range extender is priced.

· · 6 years ago

EVNow: You are probably right. I'm guessing about $45K. I don't think the $35K report about the BEV i3 is accurate either, my guess is $40 and the range extender will tack on about 5K. We may get some direction on pricing soon. BMW is going to premier the pre-production i3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September so we'll see.

· · 6 years ago

The other problem with a small engine range extender is that, it can't be used on the highway to get the same kind of power you get in EV mode.

Such range extender can be only used in city driving (like in a turtle mode EV) - useful if you run out of charge. It won't be a freeway capable PHEV.

· · 6 years ago

EVNow: They can get more than 300hp from the 3cyl they'll be using, I dont think highway power will be a problem :)


· · 6 years ago

"Such range extender can be only used in city driving . . . "
Not true. It only takes about 20 - 30 hp to sustain a car at freeway speeds. A 30 hp motor is pretty small. Having an electric motor and battery to provide surge capability that can charge during the low usage periods, a PHEV can offer pretty good overall performance, even with a tiny range extender as long as the battery is not allowed to go completely empty.

· · 6 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver · "Not true. It only takes about 20 - 30 hp to sustain a car at freeway speeds."

May be - but most people looking for a PHEV are looking for an car that can go 70 mph over a mountain pass. I don't expect any PHEVs that are underpowered in the ICE department from auto majors.

· · 6 years ago

I'm one of those who want to go 70 mph over a mountain pass (at least I do when I can't go 75 - 80 mph).
That's where the electric motor comes in.
The ideal battery and ICE sizing should allow a PHEV (in mountain mode) to climb from downtown LA to the top of the Tejon Pass or from Denver, up the I-70 grade at 70 - 75 mph. That will probably require about 50 - 60 hp sustained (peaks and valleys should average out). This means that if you have a 30 hp ICE (23 kW), and that climb is about 20 miles long (~15 minutes @75 mph), then you'll need 0.33 hour * 23 kW or about 6 kWhr of battery charge in mountain mode. Even a Plug-In Prius can handle that.

· · 6 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver · A common example here in the Seattle area would be to go across the cascades towards where Nick lives and back. I don't see how that is possible with a small engine. If I need to recharge before returning, I'd rather take my Leaf.

Put it another way, Leaf handles 90% of our driving (if not more). The rest 10% needs to be handled by this PHEV. All I need in a PHEV is battery capacity enough to cover the commute. But I need a full power engine. That is why I'm interested in C-Max Energi, for eg (volt it too small).

· theflew (not verified) · 6 years ago

@EVNow - The Volt by definition is a PHEV, but you can't lump it with all the other PHEV. All (except Volt) use their ICE to power the car once the battery is depleted with electric assist if there is power from brake regen. The Volt uses it's ICE to "generate electricity" primarily with the capability to provide power to the wheels at high speeds when the car is in charge sustaining mode secondarily. In charge sustaining mode the Volt's ICE + generator only needs to provide average power since the battery is there to provide peak when necessary. The Volt's 83 HP ICE never does and can't move the Volt by itself both by design and physically.

That's what makes the Volt different.

· · 6 years ago

@theflew (not verified) · "The Volt by definition is a PHEV, but you can't lump it with all the other PHEV."

LOL. GM marketing can claim whatever they want, but Volt is a PHEV.

Finally what matters in the mpg in CS mode - doesn't matter whether the engine drives the wheels (which it does in Volt occassionally) or through battery/motor. Volt's mpg in CS mode is poor for a compact hybrid, thats what matters in the end.

· · 6 years ago

"Finally what matters in the mpg in CS mode"
I completely disagree with this statement. IMHO, most people who are going to pay the extra money for a PHEV are going to do most of their driving in CD mode. CS mode will be there simply so that they don't have to also own a gasoline-only car (ICE or HEV). Therefore, CS mpg is basically irrelevant if 90% or more of your driving is in CD mode. If you only care about CS mode, buy a Prius and save yourself $15K.

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