Photo: Flickr, CC
The key word in the title above is "may". It's not a done deal yet, but to me it makes so much sense that I'd be surprised if Honda didn't go that route, especially after its CEO showed enthusiasm for electric cars. This info comes from Honda's head of R&D.;
Photo: Flickr, CC
All that has been said so far is about lithium-ion batteries (which are more energy-dense than the NiMH batteries that Honda currently uses), but Honda is probably also looking at ditching its Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid tech in favor of something closer to what Toyota and Ford are using.
Assist hybrids might be cheaper, but they have many limitations that make them not as future-proof. For example, it's a lot harder to go from Honda's IMA to a plug-in hybrid because the IMA system cannot move the car in 100% electric mode for very long or at very high speeds. And it's even harder to go form IMA to fully electric because you have to replace almost everything, while many parts of Toyota's HSD tech (both hardware and software) can almost certainly be used in a fully electric car.
In the early days of hybrids, Honda made the bet that having a cheaper-for-the-customer and cheaper-to-develop hybrid platform would give it a competitive advantage. But the more time passes, the more this is proving to have been a short-sighted decision. I'm hoping that Honda will rectify it quickly.
But don't expect the current models to be upgraded to li-ion: "The automaker plans to use lithium-ion batteries in all its hybrids starting with larger models such as the Acura-brand sedans and eventually compacts, Kawanabe said." It's likely that Honda will then wait for a fully redesigned lineup to make the changes (the next Insight version, next Civic hybrid, etc).
Honda's doing a lot of great things, and has focused on fuel efficiency with great success over the years. I just wish its hybrid lineup was pushing the envelope in MPG the way that the first Insight hybrid did when it first came out...
Via Detroit Free Press, ABG
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