Details Emerging about Honda’s “Affordable” Hybrid

Honda has been tightly guarding the details about its next hybrid, which the company is introducing next year. Even top U.S. engineers have not seen photographs of the vehicle. Until recently, just about the only confirmed information about the vehicle is that Honda expects to sell 200,000 units per year—as part of its larger goal to make hybrids comprise 10 percent of Honda sales by 2012. But details are starting to emerge.

In an interview with Automotive News on Mar. 19, 2008, Honda President Takeo Fukui confirmed these plans:

  • The car will have a global nameplate, like the Accord and Civic
  • The engine will be based on the Civic’s, but will use a newly designed motor and engine control unit, making it lighter and more compact
  • The hybrid car will be priced below the current Civic Hybrid (making it the least expensive hybrid on the U.S. market)
  • The new hybrid will take its design cues from the sleek, wedge-shaped FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle
  • The new hybrid will use nickel metal hydride batteries, the current standard for production hybrids, rather than next-generation lithium ion batteries

Fukui questioned the suitability of lithium ion batteries for mass-produced vehicles. He said, “Lithium ion batteries are still not usable from our perspective.” Other automakers, most notably General Motors, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, are basing their high-profile plans for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles on improvements in lithium ion batteries. The technology has not yet been proven as a safe, reliable and affordable in automotive applications.

Referring to lithium ion batteries, Fukui said, “”There’s a word in Japanese, soukon, for people who decide to get married too soon.”

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  • David

    When will this be available? And has honda completely given up on Lithium technology research?

  • steved28

    I would rather see manufacturers take Honda’s approach. That is, keep a lid on things until you can announce a car is available. I’m so sick of these companies toting vaporware (can you say GM?). I hope when they announce this car it is when they already begin manufacturing. It would be great if it were a success out of the box and left the others scrambling.

    I’m not disappointed at the lack of LiON batteries for a non plug-in hybrid. NiMH batteries are well suited for this application.

  • bcurry_2000

    It’s funny that they have found them suitable to use in the FCX fuel cell vehicle but not in mass produced hybrds.

  • Elliot

    I think that says a lot about when Honda really thinks the fc vehicles will hit the road.

  • uktiger

    The fCX IS the new global hybrid. I am telling my Honda dealer to put me down for the first one in Albuquerque.

  • Paul Rivers

    “I would rather see manufacturers take Honda’s approach. That is, keep a lid on things until you can announce a car is available. I’m so sick of these companies toting vaporware (can you say GM?).”

    Ditto! While it’s to small of a car for my taste, I’m extremely happy to see an announcement on a car that we’re actually likely to see soon! Rather than all the endless announcements about vaporware concept cars…

  • Filipe

    I think Honda didn´t give up on Lithium technology. One example is precisely the FCX. It is better to try first this technology in the real world and prove its reliability, and if it is suitable so let it start the mass production.

    On the other hand if we have a car already prepared to receive the hybrid system, then we can upgrade it in the near future. If the costs are not prohibitive. We can put a new package of batteries, for example with nanotechnology. Or even to put solar panels to recharge the batteries, like some european car makers are suggesting… (once more with nanotechnology). Who says a person can not improve its car, like tunning but better of course?

  • Oracle

    I saw the article on this, I believe in autobloggreen, and they missed a bit of news. They’re initially producing the car with NiMH batteries, but, if and when, Lithium Ion becomes feasible, they’re allowing for easy upgrade. This, if it proves not to be too costly, allieviates one of the obstacles to a person’s willingness to pull the trigger and get a hybrid instead of waiting.

  • Scott Z

    I must agree about the vaporware. I have a large hatred for all American and European car companies. They make these huge boast about hybrid, electric and fuel cell cars and what their models can do. The just don’t exist. I will only buy Honda and Toyota for some time to come until these companies wake up. My Prius has been great. When I am pushing my speed I get 43 MPG. When I am being good I get 51 MPG.

    Now if Honda and Toyota will get rid of their last bad trait and get a hybrid minivan out to us I would be happy.

  • Igor Moreda Arzo

    Past year almost bought Honda Civic Hybrid, but heard about this one which sounds much more energy efficient and ecological (small and Hybrid from scratch) so I’m waiting for more info since then. Nice to heard some about it, but not yet photos :/

    I think information will be quiet until it is almost released (2009)

  • Long Duck Dong

    The key words from Honda in regards to Li ion Batteries is “mass produced” vehicles. The FCX is not a mass produced vehicle and thus they are able to use the technology. Remember, the FCX is probably a $1,000,000 car that you can only lease with NO option to buy. Honda is taking a loss on this vehicle and doing so to test hydrogen’s real world use in a vehicle. Think of the FCX as a new drug being tested in a clinical trial. Honda did the same thing with their electric EV vehicle.

    As Li tech gets more affordable and reliable, we’ll see it.

    We already know that Tesla has put their spin on using it and seems to work pretty well. I am guessing it will get better with time.

  • omn1potent

    Welcome the emergence of the Honda Fit/Jazz Hybrid, when will it be released, and when would it be released in Australia?

  • Darrell W Hovermale

    I am very interested in this car. If they can bring it to market for @ 18k, and it can get 50+ m.p.g., please sign me up.