Honda has said it is considering a hybrid version of its Odyssey that could cut its fuel consumption in half from around 31 mpg to 62 mpg.
At least that’s what the Japanese automaker told some Australian journalists of presumably Japanese mileage testing, and the actual numbers they used were 3.8L/km for the hybrid compared to 7.6L/km for the non hybrid.
This translates to “31” mpg for the standard Odyssey and “62” mpg for a hybrid, should they build it, but these numbers are almost surely optimistic, if not still hopeful.
In the U.S. the 2014 Odyssey gets a combined 22 mpg, but even if under the EPA cycle a hybrid Odyssey cracked into the low 40s, or even high 30s, that would be huge.
For now, the hybridization for the Odyssey is not under development, but only being proposed – and for the Japanese market. However, unlike Toyota’s Alphard and Estima hybrids we drove late last summer in Michigan, the Odyssey is – as mentioned – also a U.S. model, so people wanting a big but efficient people hauler may keep their fingers crossed.
The news came after journalists spoke about the plush, new fifth-generation 2.4-liter Odyssey with Honda powertrain assistant large project leader Takashi Shinchi.
“In Japan we have the [Toyota] Tarago, which is available in a hybrid, and also we have a vehicle called [Toyota] Alphard,” Shinchi said. “They are both available in hybrid, so because there is a need and a high demand for a hybrid vehicle, we have just commenced the consideration of bringing in a hybrid.”
Issues to contend with include finding a a suitable place to store the hybrid battery that 1) does not excessively impede space, and 2) does not hurt weight distribution.
“We have to consider all possibilities of where this battery can be located,” Shinchi said. “We have to think about the weight distribution – whether positioning it in the forward area or the rear is best. So all of that will be considered when we pick the most optimal position for the battery.”
Otherwise, whether or not Honda has the technical ability to make it into the lower 40 mpg mark is not likely a question. The company’s 2-motor hybrid system in the new Accord Hybrid nets 50 mpg city, 45 highway, 47 combined. Naturally the up-to eight-passenger Odyssey is larger and less aerodynamic, but it could be possible for Honda to substantially improve over the gas-only Odyssey.
We spoke with Honda spokesman Chris Martin over a month back and asked what Honda is doing with regards to its new 1-motor, 2-motor and 3-motor systems that surpass its present IMA system in its Civic variants.
He said potential for hybridizing larger vehicles is something Honda is looking at, as it is all other potential solutions.
On the subject of larger U.S. hybrids, Nissan has its Pathfinder, and Toyota its Highlander, but Honda’s larger Ridgeline, Pilot, and Odyssey are not available as hybrids now.
As federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy restrictions increase, improving mpg in larger vehicles could make sense.
No talk of a plug-in version is being made, and a diesel model to compete with other makers’ diesel minivans in overseas markets was also ruled out.
Shinchi said the Japanese have an aversion to diesels from bad past experience, and the sales percentage would not be worth it for Honda.