Honda to Expand Application of Hybrid Technology

U.S. Introduction of Next Generation Engine Series in 2001

1/12/2000 6:07:00 PM

Honda announced plans at the North American International Auto Show today to expand application of its breakthrough IMA gas-electric hybrid technology to other mass market models in several years. Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) President and CEO Hiroyuki Yoshino also re-affirmed Honda's plan to launch a new series of cleaner, high performance internal combustion engines this year and a fuel cell vehicle by 2003.

"Through self-innovation, we are challenging ourselves to make the power train of today and tomorrow cleaner and more efficient -- in our automobiles, motorcycles and power products," said Honda Motor Co., Ltd. President and CEO Hiroyuki Yoshino. "This will give new meaning to the words 'Powered by Honda' -- a phrase so important to our past and one that, I believe, will have even more power in the future."

Honda became the first automaker to offer a gas-electric hybrid vehicle for sale in America with the launch of the Insight in December, 1999. The Insight earned the EPA's top mileage rating ever, 61 mpg city and 70 mpg highway. The Insight is powered by Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system, which combines an ultra-efficient 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder gasoline engine with electric motor assist for improved efficiency. Yoshino also announced that in several years Honda will apply its IMA hybrid technology to the company's new "Next Generation Engine Series" of lightweight, compact, gasoline internal combustion engines. Honda is committed to advancing internal combustion engine technology even as the company works on alternative fuel technologies, such as fuel cell vehicles. "In this way, we will continue to provide our customers with the fun and excitement they have enjoyed in the past, while creating a better future for the environment and society," he said. Yoshino provided information on Honda's commitment to current and future technologies:

  • Next Generation Engine Series: the new family of 2-liter, 4-cylinder engines will achieve a SULEV emissions level and a 10 to 20 percent boost in fuel efficiency, along with higher performance, including improved low-speed torque. The first new engines debut this fall in Japan. The engine series will be introduced in the U.S. in 2001. Honda will replace its entire 4-cylinder engine lineup worldwide with the next-generation engines by 2005, including the 2003 Accord lineup.
  • Fuel Cell Vehicles: in introducing the methanol-fueled Honda FCX concept vehicle for the first time in the U.S., Yoshino re-affirmed Honda's commitment to introduce a fuel cell vehicle to the market by 2003. In addition to the FCX, Honda is pursuing parallel development of both hydrogen- fueled and methanol-fueled fuel cell prototype models -- including Honda's independent development of the fuel cell stack.

Yoshino explained that Honda's concept of self-innovation and investment in foundation technologies such as fuel cells is key to the company's strategy of speed, flexibility and efficiency -- and to Honda's independence. Prior to the introduction of the Insight hybrid vehicle, Honda developed the world's first electric vehicle powered by advanced nickel-metal hydride batteries. He said the hybrid Insight is the "fruit of the marriage" of Honda's internal combustion and EV technologies. "Just as with our development of unique electric vehicle technology several years ago, we believe that developing fuel cell technology in-house is an advantage," said Yoshino. "It will provide us with a better capability to advance fuel cell vehicles to the market in the future."

Honda designs, manufactures and markets automobiles, motorcycles and power products worldwide. Honda is the largest engine maker in the world, producing more than 10 million engines annually for its three product lines, including sales of engines to other manufacturers. Honda products are manufactured in more than 100 plants in 33 countries, employing more than 125,000 associates globally. Honda employs 19,000 associates in its U.S. sales, R&D and manufacturing operations.