Honda revealed yesterday at the Detroit auto show that it is adding a dedicated hybrid model to its light truck lineup in 2018.
The announcement was made during the introduction of Honda’s all-new Odyssey minivan by Takahiro Hachigo, the automaker’s president and CEO.
The new hybrid model – Ridgeline pickup shown, as no images are yet available – will be manufactured at a plant in the U.S. as part of the Honda Electrification Initiative, which calls for the expansion of the company’s electrified vehicles.
“Half of the all-new models Honda will launch in the United States in the coming two years will be electrified vehicles,” Hachigo said.
The executive said it would begin to use the company’s two-motor hybrid system that powers cars, in its light trucks.
Currently the two-motor hybrid system is employed in the Accord Hybrid, a midsize passenger sedan which uses a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that produce a combined output of 212 horsepower.
The Accord’s 49 mpg city rating makes it the most fuel efficient midsize car in America.
It was not revealed what type of truck will be introduced next year: pickup, crossover SUV or perhaps a minivan.
Honda’s current lineup includes the Ridgeline pickup, the CR-V and HR-V small crossovers, the Pilot midsize SUV and the Odyssey minivan.
Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid compact crossover has been a winner since it was introduced last year, leapfrogging over the Camry Hybrid to become the second best-selling hybrid vehicle, trailing only the Toyota Prius.
General Motors was less successful with its two-mode hybrid system used in Chevrolet and GMC full-size pickup trucks and SUVs a few years back, which hasn’t deterred Ford from announcing it will bring out a rear-drive F-150 pickup by 2020.
Honda’s announcement might seem ill timed since hybrid sales have been decreasing the past three years due to low gasoline prices and a trend of increasing sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles, but Hachigo said Honda was sure of what it is doing.
“Gas prices have reduced demand for hybrid vehicles in the U.S. But in the long term, electrified vehicles are key to the future of carbon-free mobility,” he said.