Honda showcases Accord plug-in hybrid

Honda has been pumping out its Accord model since 1976. In 2005, a short-lived hybrid model was launched, which, because of slow sales and not-too-impressive fuel economy, only lasted until the 2007 model year.

Now it appears Honda is giving it another shot with the introduction of the Accord Plug-in Concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The release of the new plug-in hybrid comes as part of Honda’s complete overhaul of its Accord line, which are also getting their intro in Detroit. These new ninth-generation cars will feature exterior redesigns along with more efficient engine and transmission technologies.

While the new plug-in is still labeled as a concept, Honda has already given it the green light, saying that it will be available beginning next winter as a 2013 model.

When the new hybrid does hit the street, look for a two-motor system powered by a 2.0-liter, i-VTEC inline four-cylinder, Atkinson cycle engine paired to a 120 kW electric motor powered by a 6 kW lithium-ion battery. Honda will run that powertrain through an electric Continuously Variable Transmission.

For more efficient high-speed cruising, the Accord Plug-In Hybrid can engage in a direct-drive mode, in which only the engine drives the front wheels. Additionally, the two-motor hybrid system moves continuously through three modes – all-electric, gasoline-electric and direct-drive – to maximize driving efficiency and fuel economy.

In all-electric mode, the plug-in is good for a range of approximately 10-15 miles in city driving scenarios and a top speed of 62 mph. Fully recharging the battery will take less than four hours using a 120-volt, outlet and less than 1.5 hours using a 240-volt charger.

Honda hasn’t mentioned hybrid fuel economy figures yet, so we can’t estimate the car’s range or its performance stats but it’s a good bet that Honda will do its best to make the car competitive with leading industry models such as the Prius plug-in and Chevy Volt, which have combined fuel efficiency ranges in the 90-to-100-mile range.

Inside, the new Accord plug-in will feature a lane departure warning system, blind spot monitoring and forward-crash warning technology. The car will also utilize cameras mounted on the rear and side windows to detect and warn of collisions. Also standard on the new Accord will be Pandora internet radio, SMS text messaging and Bluetooth connectivity.

Steve Duda, EarthTechling