TOKYO--Honda Motor Co. plans to return to larger hybrid vehicles with a new electric-gasoline drivetrain after miserable sales of an earlier hybrid Accord forced it to quit the segment.
Honda's current hybrid system, in smaller cars such as the Civic and Insight, uses one motor. A hybrid system under development will use two.
"That is one major initiative we are working on," Tsuneo Tanai, COO of automobile operations at Honda, told Automotive News on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show. "The motor will have higher output. There will be dual motors, with a larger battery that enables the car to be driven in all-electric mode."
Tanai declined to say what large models would get the new hybrid system or when. But Japan's Nikkei business daily reported last month that Honda plans to add a hybrid minivan in 2011.
Honda also is studying mating the system to a lithium ion battery, Tanai said. The company's current hybrids run on nickel-metal hydride power packs.
When the next-generation lithium batteries arrive, they will be more compact. That could allow them to be swapped with the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in smaller hybrids, he added.
"It still requires some development time to make the whole energy management system suitable for lithium batteries as opposed to nickel batteries," Tanai said. … Read more