Honda ‘dreams’ of leading fuel efficiency

When Honda sets sets its sights, it really sets them high. The company recently announced goals for its future drive technology at the Tokyo Auto Show.

Those goals call for nothing less than achieving “top-of-industry fuel efficiency in every vehicle class within three years.” Honda is calling the initiative “Earth Dreams Technology,” and it encompasses everything from the company’s internal combustion engines to hybrids, electric vehicles (EVs) and new transmission technology.

In terms of its green efforts, “Earth Dreams” means that Honda will commit to its new two-motor hybrid system that will realize “top-of-industry efficiency.” 

Honda also plans to utilize a special lithium-ion battery and charger paired with a high-output 120-kilowatt motor.

This powertrain for hybrids will work via three driving modes: an “EV driving mode” for urban environments, a “hybrid driving mode” using electricity generated by the motor and an “engine-connected driving mode” where the engine and tires are mechanically connected during high-speed cruising. 

The auto manufacturer expects to begin production on these developments starting with the plug-in hybrid model in 2012 and the hybrid model in 2013. The company will also be developing an all-wheel-drive hybrid system for larger vehicles, which is slated to combine a 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor.

Honda hopes to squeeze acceleration equivalent to V8 engines, as well as fuel efficiency equal or superior to in-line four-cylinder engines. 

The new hybrid will mount independent 20-kW-plus motors on both sides for the rear wheels combined with a seven-speed transmission system for “super handling all wheel drive.”

On the electric front, Honda is looking toward its high-efficiency electric powertrain to lead it into the future. The system features high-capacity lithium-ion batteries and three separate driving modes (“sport”, “normal” and “econ”) to offer a range of 123 miles. Honda also claimed that the new electric powertrain cuts the recharging time to less than three hours when using a 240-volt U.S. electric source.

* Steve Duda, EarthTechling