Honda’s New Lightweight And Compact Hybrid System

Honda has improved both its hybrid system and its hybrid strategy, developing a lightweight and compact one-motor hybrid system for small vehicles.

Honda calls this system the SPORTS HYBRID Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive system.

This hybrid system is the latest addition to the Earth Dreams Technology series of Honda powertrain technology that aims to combine driving performance and good fuel economy.

Combined to the SPORT HYBRID Intelligent Multi Mode Drive for mid-sized vehicles and the SPORT HYBRID SH-AWD (SPORT HYBRID Super Handling – All Wheel Drive), the SPORT HYBRID Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive will allow Honda to offer a SPORT HYBRID system for any vehicle sizes and characteristics.

The new powertrain in the one-motor SPORT HYBRID Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive combines a newly developed inline 4-cylinder 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT). According to Honda, its built-in high-output motor and lithium-ion battery improve efficiency by more than 30 percent compared to a conventional one-motor hybrid system.

Honda also said that the combination of the one-motor hybrid system and the engine offers sporty driving during acceleration and high-speed cruising by using the clutches to engage the engine. With this system, electric vehicle (EV) driving is utilized during start up and low- to medium-speed cruising by using the clutches to disengage the engine.

You can expect this system to appear in the next generation Fit.

Honda’s new hybrid strategy also relies on the two-motor SPORT HYBRID Intelligent Multi Mode Drive / Plug-in.

Honda says this is the world’s most efficient two-motor hybrid system optimized for mid-sized vehicles.

The adoption of high-efficiency /high-output motors offers quick acceleration with an EV-like driving feel and high fuel economy, but combining this to the flexibility of a hybrid.

Honda says this hybrid system achieves the world’s highest efficiency by combining a newly-developed engine dedicated for hybrid vehicles (the Earth Dreams Technology new 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine); an electric CVT coupled to two built-in motors and a lock-up clutch; a lithium-ion battery; and making it all work in sync through a smart system which can switch modes to match driving styles and situations.

The system switches the operation among three driving modes. “EV Drive” for driving powered only by the electric motor using electricity from the battery and regeneration during deceleration; “Engine Drive” for medium-to high-speed cruising with the engine and axle directly connected by a lock-up clutch and engine power being mechanically transferred to the wheels; and “Hybrid Drive” for urban driving and powerful acceleration using the electric motor with electricity generated by the engine.

This two-motor hybrid system, which is also suitable as a plug-in hybrid system, will be installed to the North American version of the Accord, scheduled to be introduced to the market in January 2013.


Third in Honda’s new strategy is the three-motor SPORT HYBRID SH-AWD (SPORT HYBRID Super Handling – All Wheel Drive).

According to Honda, this system combines a V6 engine to a high-output three-motor system allowing for acceleration equivalent to that of a V8 engine, but with fuel economy better than that of an inline 4-cylinder engine.

A new V6 3.5-liter direct-injection engine is installed in the front of the vehicle and is combined to a newly-developed 7-speed DCT system with a built-in motor. This Honda technology also uses two motors installed in the rear to control torque distribution to the right and left rear wheels.

Using independent motors for the right and left rear wheels, positive torque is applied to the outside wheel and negative torque is applied to the inside wheel, making independent control of torque distribution to the rear wheels possible without relying on engine output.

Interestingly, depending on the radius of the curve, the energy generated by the inside wheel is recovered electrically and applied to the outside wheel to self-generate torque necessary for the vehicle to make the turn.

Honda proudly stated these latest advancements in electric vehicle technologies further progress Honda towards making the Sport Hybrid, such as the forthcoming new NSX model, a reality.

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  • Van

    The new Accord drive train sounds a lot like the Toyota HSD. Just as the Ford version seems to be more efficient, Honda is also saying their variant will be more efficient. Time will tell.

  • usbseawolf2000

    The 2-motors Accord drivetrain is not like HSD. At low speed, it operates like a series hybrid (engine generating electricity and feeds the traction motor).

    At mid-high speed, the gas engine makes a direct mechanical connection with a clutch engaged. This would be a parallel hybrid setup.

    There is no infinite variable series/parallel ratio like in HSD because there is no power split device. The series or parallel mode is switched with a clutch.

  • usbseawolf2000

    Toyota HSD is two motors power-split hybrid and there is 3-motors setup with the e-4WD option in Highlander hybrid and RX450h.

    The two motors HSD in Prius c is packaged about the same size/weight as Honda IMA with a single motor. I don’t see how this new IDCD from small hybrid can be smaller/lighter than IMA.

    Having said that, I am very interested in the official EPA figures and the real-world MPG for the new Honda hybrids.

  • Modern Marvel Fan

    Honda’s system is more similar to Volt’s series/parallel hybrid system. It is NOTHING similar to Prius’s HSD, which is mostly an ICE powered system with electric motor assist. It is ONLY paralllel hybrid mode.

    Volt’s system has high complexity and requires larger battery pack, in result it adds significant weight. I wonder if Honda will just sacrifice EV range to keep the weight down.

    As far as Ford goes, it needs to get better “real world” world MPG first before it challenges anyone else. EPA rated 47mpg only translates to real world driving of 38-40mpg for most of the new owners and all the driving review tests so far…

  • usbseawolf2000

    Voltec is very similar to HSD with the use of planetary gearset — the way ICE and two MGs are connected are different. Volt added 3 clutches and more complexity.

    Honda 2 motor hybrid has no planetary gearset (to split or combine power). It only has one clutch so it is simpler than Volt in that sense.

  • Van

    Hi Usbseawolf2000, I am just going by this quote: ” an electric CVT coupled to two built-in motors and a lock-up clutch.” This appears to describe a continuously variable transmission with 2 motors and the lock-up mechanism to shift and split the power. Just like some folks deny the Volt system operates on the same principle, feel free to deny the 2 motor honda system is also a clone of the HSD. I am sure it too will be configured differently, as the Volt system is, to avoid patent infringement.

  • Volume Van

    Is the Honda trying to confuse the market with 1 motor, 2 motor & 3 motor hybrid systems.

    Why not they sell the Fit-Hybrid here in USA. This is very successful in Japan. Right now, Ford has wrested the #2 spot in Hybrid sales.

  • Edilberto Durano

    This will sell like pancakes in the market! Honda is doing the best they can to revolutionize the automobile. In my own humble opinion, Honda cars are little Madame Bovarys. Just perfect!
    Ed of

  • John K.

    I can’t wait for the next gen CR-Z (MY 2014? 2015?). Hopefully it will get the one-motor SPORT HYBRID Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive.

    Does anyone know if that will allow the engine to run the hybrid drive in reverse to act as an emergency backup power generator, like you can w/the Prius w/a newly available option?

    Toyota started developing it after the tsunami disaster in Japan in 2011. Seems like a lot of folks on the Atlantic coast could have used that during/after Hurricane Sandy.

    While gasoline shortages could limit its usefulness, if you lived on the edges of the disaster area, you could drive further out to get gas and then drive home to use your hybrid to power your home for a few hours per nite, plus your refrig/freezer for awhile every few hours.