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Honda Outlines Aggressive Focus on Diesel, FCVs; Hybrids are “Just One” Approach

In his remarks to the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars 2006 in Traverse City, Michigan, American Honda Senior Vice President John Mendel outlined a powertrain strategy focused on three critical issues requiring unique technological approaches.

These three areas are (a) the continued reduction of air pollution with conventional engines; (b) improving the fuel efficiency of the internal combustion engine, including hybrids and diesels; and (c) developing alternative fuel technologies—vehicles and infrastructure— to address energy sustainability and work toward a mode of transportation with zero mobile source CO2 emissions.

With progress...in reducing air emissions... coupled with increased concern over global warming... today, the primary focus of environmental technology has shifted toward fuel efficiency as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions... or CO2.

But higher gas prices have added a strong consumer voice to this issue. And sales numbers over the past two months paint a pretty clear picture of how attitudes toward fuel efficiency are changing.

But we were focused on fuel efficiency when gas prices were relatively low. It is just what we believe. One media pundit has said that “the market has come back to Honda.” And he might be right. But give us some credit, too—we stuck to our commitment—to Honda’s core values of providing fuel efficient vehicles. It is strategy guided by principle...not blind luck.

We have no intention to stop pushing the efficiency envelope even from our leadership position. Earlier this year, Honda became the first automaker in the world to set global CO2 reduction goals for its products and production activities. Importantly, these are voluntary efforts...beyond what is required by law. Despite increased sales of larger vehicles such as SUVs and minivans, we are targeting a reduction in CO2 emissions from our products of 10 percent by year 2010, compared to 2000 levels. We are also focusing attention on the facilities that build our products...with plans to reduce the global average of CO2 emissions required to produce one automobile at a Honda facility in year 2010 by 10 percent compared to 2000.

—John Mendel

Honda recognizes, according to Mendel, that the gasoline internal combustion engine will remain the primary platform for the next 15-20 years. He noted the targets set by the company for coming gasoline platforms: a new 4-cylinder ICE in the VTEC series with an improvement in fuel efficiency of up to 13% compared to 2005 levels and a V-6 with more advanced variable Cylinder management technology to offer an up to 11% improvement in efficiency over 2005 levels.

...our strategy is not about pursuing the latest fad. And I would include hybrids in that statement. Now, be careful about what you just heard... I did not say hybrids are a fad. But I want to emphasize they are just one necessary approach.

I know people have wondered about our hybrid strategy—we have been questioned repeatedly regarding why we haven’t joined those companies promising to sell 250-thousand to a million hybrids by the end of the decade. The reason is simple...Honda always proceeds with a sense of urgency, but we also have a patience that is born out of experience with technology. There are multiple solutions to the environmental challenge...and the answer is not necessarily hybrids for all model types.

—John Mendel

Mendel touched on Honda’s plans for the new small hybrid to be launched in 2009 (earlier post), but then went straight into a discussion of the diesel strategy that Honda is developing for North America.

Based on this foundation, within three years, we will introduce a new 4-cylinder diesel engine that meets the world’s toughest emissions standards. With hybrid technology focused more on small cars, we believe that diesel technology is the best fuel efficient technology for larger vehicles. So, R&D is also working on the development of V6 diesel engine technology. We do not have a timetable for introducing such an engine. But it is a key development goal.

Mendel also noted that Honda will not use add-on exhaust aftertreatment technology such as urea SCR to manage the diesel emissions. DaimlerChrysler is using a NOx adsorber in its E320 BlueTec sedan to go on sale this fall, but has proposed using urea-based SCR treatments for its larger vehicles—such as SUVs—in the US.

He also emphasized Honda’s role with natural gas vehicles and infrastructure—the Phill home refueling appliance.

This real world experience with the [natural gas] technology and the customer has been invaluable to Honda. Not only in advancing the performance of the Civic GX... but as a pathway to another alternative fuel vehicle...the hydrogen fuel cell.

In addition to confirming that Honda plans to have a production version of the FCX fuel cell vehicle on the market in about three years, Mendel pointed to Honda&rsquols infrastructure efforts to support hydrogen-fueled transportation: the 3rd generation Home Energy Station and its efforts in building a solar-powered hydrogen refueling station using Honda’s own thin-film solar cells.



Compare and contrast this speech with the chrysler dude's.

Not even in the same ballpark. That's why Honda is ascending while chrysler is decending.


Honda's goals are commendable and I expect that they will achieve them. However, we need to reduce greenhouse emissions by considerably more than they evision. No technology will achieve this and, therefore, we must find a way to cut way back on our use of the automobile.

One possible exception may be the widescale production and consumption of an electric vehicle running on electricity produced by a highly efficient combined cycle natural gas process or better, such as solar and/or wind. I think it would be better if Honda were pursuing at least a plug-in hybrid versus hydrogen.

The Tesla purportedly emits 12.6 grams per km using natural gas combined cycle. For a frame of reference, the Honda Insight emits 39.6 grams per km. Although this information was put out by Tesla based on their analysis, it seems to be a valid analysis.

For the full analysis, go to evworld.com to the archives section, then the PDF section.

I see the electric vehicle as a possible, not definite exception only because I have not yet seen a full life cycle analysis of the embodied energy of a range of conventional ICE based vehicles vs. the Tesla or other electric vehicle. Some seem to think that the embodied energy of the batteries might significantly change the comparison.


I agree with the earlier post on EV's. Solar-powered hydrogen refilling plants are good, but why not just use solar power to fuel electric cars? In electrolysis, the process of splitting water to yield hydrogen and oxygen, some of the energy is lost through heat, resulting in lower efficiency. And for a car that will just strip off the hydrogen molecule's electron for use in an electric motor, why not just use a battery instead?

allen Z

T, Jim,
Bingo. The only advantage H2 has is the current battery weight/range issue. That should disappear quickly.
___As to ICE's, there are 3 main ways to squeeze more out of an amount of fuel:
a) burn more of the fuel completely in the cylinder and in specific ways to create pressure curves so that the energy is more efficiently extracted.
b) reduce parasitic losses and auxiliary loads.
c) recovery of waste heat.

John W.

Yes, Jim, you hit it the nail on the head. We are starting to enjoy the dawn of a new electric day, I think.

shaun mann

yeah, if we could all afford $80k electric sportscars, how clean the world would be.

and remember, a large fraction of the cost is for the batteries, so a midsize sedan will cost significantly more because it will require more energy storage and an SUV or truck is completely out of the question

battery technology still needs serious improvements in cost and energy density. order of magnitude improvements.

on the positive, the number of charging cycles before failure, power density, and recharge rate all seem to be good enough at this point


Cheers for Honda and Toyota.

If not for these companies there would not be hundreds of thousand of hybid cars on the road today using less fuel and leading the way to even greater possibilities.


The problem is that cars are wealth display mechanisms in most countries. Why else do so many people drive 3 ton SUVs and sedans that can do 140 mph ?
If people drove cars more appropriate to there actual needs, we could all have far more effecient cars. I would not dream of buying a car that can do < 110 mph. I would feel like a loser. I will never drive more than 90, and hardly ever drive more than 80, but the car I buy and its engine are sized for far more performance than I need. We are willing suckers to the auto industry. It is so ingrained in our culture that it will be hard to change it.
The more the cost of fuel goes up the more some people want to show how rich or cool they are by buying huge SUVs or whatever.
In Ireland petrol costs E1.20 / litre = approx $5.70 / US gallon. They are still buying SUVs (mostly diesel) and BMWs in large numbers.

On another track, the nearest thing we have to e-cars is PHEVs (assuming they get the barreries right). If you combine PHEVs with more reasonable performance specs and lower weights (by simply making the cars smaller, not carbon fibre composites), you are more or less there - particularly if you generate your electricity from Nuclear or wind.

It strikes me as a shame to use natural gas as a fuel for generating power, better to pipe it to homes and burn it there. Ditto for liquid fuels, keep them for transportation - and use them frugally and/or blended with biofuels.

This is all B.S.

We already had a successful, plug in, all electric vehicle in the USA....(EV1) in 1996, yet we are still debating over what type of fuel to use. With the new Lithium ion batteries and nano techs we shloud already have a plug in, all electric, vehicle with a range of 200+ miles. Its all a scam... the government and big business do not want efficient cars...there's no $$$ in it for them, why would they? What we need is a private company to start making affordable long range electric cars and when the time comes they need to hold the line and not sell out to the government or big business.

Shaun Williams

That's a lot of cheers for Honda and Toyota...I guess they kinda deserve it though :-)



High power in our cars is for sharp acceleration. It also allows incredibly high speed, not nearly needed. In fact, it is handling characteristics, which limit max speed, not engine power. But I agree with you that most vehicles in US are overpowered. Also do not forget, that BMW and Mercedes signature – rear wheel drive, is nonsense on public roads. It is beneficial at closed truck for expert race driver, but for family sedan on public road it is more dangerous, heavier, and consumes more fuel. In that respect Audi/VW ideology makes more sense: front wheel drive cars, or for performance lowers AWD.


"Despite increased sales of larger vehicles such as SUVs and minivans, we are targeting a reduction in CO2 emissions from our products of 10 percent by year 2010, compared to 2000 levels"

Suppose Honda is successful and increases sales by 50%, will they still succeed in cutting the CO2 emissions of their products by 10%? Of course not. This statement is inaccurate. He forgot to mention he was talking about AVERAGE CO2 emissions.

It sounds like hair splitting, but what I am trying to say is that focussing on increasing efficiency is not going to help us. Every increase in efficiency is more than compensated by more cars driving longer distances. The net result will be more CO2 output.

We seem to collectively ignore this inescapable reality: ever more efficient engines producing more emissions.


Cheers for Antonov


Toyota update
14 October 2005

In April 2005, Antonov Plc, the automotive technology company, filed an infringement action against Toyota at the Patent Court in Düsseldorf alleging infringement of its patents by the driveline of the Toyota Prius and Lexus RX400h. The Company, importantly, also believes that Toyota has licensed the technology for use in other manufacturers’ products.

The case received its preliminary hearing on September 22nd 2005 having previously been postponed by the Company to allow further negotiations with Toyota in order to reach a satisfactory settlement.

To date, Toyota’s offer does not reflect a fair payment for the use of Antonov’s intellectual property in all relevant vehicles sold to date and for those that will be sold through to the expiry of the patents. Antonov’s patents cover the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and also Japan.

As a result, and in line with Antonov’s expectations, the Patent Court in Düsseldorf announced the following timetable at the hearing on September 22nd.

The oral hearing for the case is scheduled for August 29th 2006. Prior to this hearing, the courts have set a timetable for the parties to prepare their submissions. Toyota has until January 16th 2006 to respond to Antonov’s writ. Antonov is then provided with the opportunity to address Toyota’s response by May 2nd 2006. Toyota then has a final opportunity to refine their defence by August 7th 2006 shortly before the oral hearing.

Antonov’s legal action was taken after a process of in depth consultation with patent, legal and automotive industry experts. The action has been taken in Germany, as detailed previously, as the German legal system provides a relatively rapid and very cost effective route to a legally binding decision. Antonov expects that the entire process should cost in the region of EUR100,000.

John Moore, Antonov’s CEO commented-

“We would not take legal action against Toyota unless we were confident that we had a strong case. It is important that we protect our patents and seek royalty payments in respect of all products manufactured or sold in the territories where our patent cover exists. We believe that Toyota has both infringed our patents as well as licensed this technology to other manufacturers. We will continue to seek a negotiated settlement but have made provision to pursue the case through the courts if this proves to be necessary.”

Patent details

The case relates to Antonov patent EP 0414782 and covers the use of a drivetrain which balances the drive from an engine and an electric motor with the load from a vehicle and a generator.

Antonov launches two-speed supercharger
1 December 2005

The Board of Antonov plc is pleased to announce that it has today launched its Antonov Mechanical Module (“AMM”) two-speed supercharger at the eighteenth Performance Racing Trade Show in Orlando, Florida.

The first of these supercharger units is now ready for shipment. In addition to those units retained by the Company for its own on-going in-vehicle testing, the first batch will include deliveries to its distribution partner, Wheel-to-Wheel Tecstar. This will support Wheel-to-Wheel Tecstar’s preparation of revised installation kits for various vehicles within the significant US tuner market, as previously announced. Additional units are being supplied on schedule to Rotrex A/S to enable them to continue their supercharger development and in order to complete the build of two demonstrator vehicles for press and client demonstration.

The remainder of this initial batch of superchargers will be used to satisfy the requests received by the Company from eight different vehicle manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers to purchase units for evaluation purposes.

John Moore, CEO of Antonov, commented:

“I am extremely pleased to be launching our two-speed supercharger today, particularly as this ensures a strong approach to the considerable US tuner market with its promise of healthy sales in the New Year. I am also very encouraged by the robust and immediate response we have received from OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, three of whom have disclosed that the units will be used for evaluation on diesel engines. I believe this underlines the success of Antonov’s strategy of launching the AMM into the market as a proven technology.”


To Anne's point: yes, more cars mean more emissions, but given the emerging economies of the world, particularly China and India, as well as increasing wealth in eastern Europe, it is inevitable that there will be more cars, like it or not. This is irrespective of what happens in the US. So, improvements in efficiency in particular and catalysis and fuel formulation is very important.

To "This is All B.S." : Sorry to disagree, but there has never been a successful EV anywhere in the world, in terms of a highway capable automobile. Technologically, yes, the EV1, the Ford Ranger, the Toyota RAV4, and others, are successful. But in order for them to be truly successful, they have to be economically producible and sellable, which means battery technology has to improve. Except for neighborhood vehicles, people will not accept electric vehicles with range limited to +/- 100 miles. This is a fact of life as we know it. And sorry, with all due respect to Tesla, that vehicle is not going to replace the family sedan. And, by the way, I've been working professionally in the EV world since 1985, and the next big battery breakthrough has always been "just around the corner," but so far only incremental improvements have been made, which is pretty much the story since about the mid-1800's. Chemistry is chemistry.

And one last word: the US government is not big brother controlling this, like some tax-funded Lex Luther, and neither are the energy companies. There is no conspiracy. Give me a break. Our government, best in the world as it is, could never coordinate such a conspiracy successfully. Consider disaster relief, or emergency responder's radio frequencies, or any other role of government, and you'll have to agree that coordination is not Uncle Sam's strong suit.

allen Z

Dang, what the heck? Most of the posts are a repeat of your comment. Remove all but one please.

allen Z

Patent war could make it harder for hybrids (from Toyota, Ford, and other licensees) to continue making market gains. This could be the opportunity for GM to seize the moment and propel itself onto the hybrid market. Ford may jettison Toyota and focus on hydraulic hybrids.



And yet you continue to work in the EV world. Perhaps you are more optimistic than you sound. Why are you still in that world?

Tesla is starting at the high end and will move lower if successful. But still, I agree they have a long way to go before it will be affordable for the masses.


Roy wrote: "the next big battery breakthrough has always been 'just around the corner,' but so far only incremental improvements have been made, which is pretty much the story since about the mid-1800's. Chemistry is chemistry."

Incremental improvements!? Hello, what planet are you commenting from?

1860 - Lead acid battery - 35 Wh/kg
1950s - US commercial NiCd - 40 Wh/kg
1998 - NiMH used in GM EV1 - 45 Wh/kg
2006 - Sony LiIon - [b]220 Wh/kg[/b]

Any vehicle switching from lead-acid to the same weight of today's LiIon batteries would store 6.3x as much energy and have 6.3x the range. That's not an incremental gain. And neither is the inherent safety offered by A123 and Valence, nor the 20C charge / discharge rate of recent nanotech-batteries like A123 etc.

OK LiIon is expensive today, but a CD-player cost $1,000 in 1982 (vs $10 today) and the price of LiIon in 18650 form is tumbling just as fast every year.


t: I am optimistic, and electric drives is what I do. What can I say? Its a job.

Clett: I'm commenting from Planet Earth. Not even one order of magnitude improvement in energy density in 146 years? I don't have the figures, but it would be interesting to know the improvements in power density and efficiency of the IC engine over nearly the same period of time. I'm sure it has been considerable.

One gallon of gasoline: roughly 12000 Wh/kg. Even with an EV with about 70% (optimistic) cycle averaged efficiency between battery terminals and the wheels, and say 25% (pessimistic) between gas tank and wheels, you're still talking roughly 150 Wh/kg at the wheels for the EV and 3000 Wh/kg for the gas or diesel vehicle. And what about lubrication, cooling, air conditioning, heating, power steering, power brakes, 500W of audio power, electric windows and mirrors, heated seats, etc.? Those auxiliaries are handled nicely with an IC engine and some are included in the numbers above, but is a bit of a hit on your 220 Wh/kg battery capacity.

Folks, I'd love to have an EV in my garage, and I think EVs and HEVs and alt fuel vehicles are great things, otherwise I'd have a hard time getting up to go to work every day! Let's just keep some perspective. I do take umbrage at commentaries that try to make it sound like the auto companies are composed of idiots (except for - trumpet blast here - Toyota and Honda) or that it should be a snap to put out a production EV. We need to keep working at it, but don't think that it is easy.

Joseph Willemssen

Cheers for Antonov

£75,000 in revenue in 2005, and no revenue at all in 2003 and 2004?? Can you say "patent troll"?

Harvey D.


One must admit that Clett has a good point. Batteries performance has increased substantially since 1950 and specially in the last 10 years. Have you missed the news about nanotech and similar improved storage devices?


Thank you for the data. A combination of advanced nanotech lithium quick charge batteries + super capacitors should be able to store the energy required for 400 Km + within 5 to 10 years without adding extra weight to current ICE vehicles. However, significant (storage devices) price reduction will be required before such vehicles can be mass produced and marketed.

The current $1200+/Kwh will have to come down to $200 - $300/Kwh to make economical sense for a mass product. This make take more than 5 years but may become a reality in about 10 years. Similar price drops (and more) happened to LCD & Plasma HDTV after 10 years on the market.

Joseph Willemssen

Tesla is starting at the high end and will move lower if successful. But still, I agree they have a long way to go before it will be affordable for the masses.

Many companies have pursued that same strategy and used that same logic.

Hopefully the superior capitalization, marketing, executive team, and timing (better battery and carbon fiber tech and economics) will prove favorable for Tesla. But the "start with the top market and work one's way down with scale efficiencies" strategy in and of itself is not a sufficient condition with respect to success.

Sid Hoffman

Clett, look at battery technology in terms of Amp-hours per dollar, not per kilogram. Sadly enough, even though LiIon can hold 4-6 times the AH per KG, it doesn't seem to offer much in the way of greater AH per dollar. The good news is that LiIon seems to last for many more charge/discharge cycles than even deep cycle lead acid batteries, but still, as was said already, the progress over the last 150 years or so has been among the slowest progress of any form of technology in existance.


The Tesla is using the aluminum chassis from the $45,000 Lotus Elise (which currently uses the 1.8L from a $20,000 no longer produced Toyota Celica). If we packaged the Tesla in something like a Corolla or Celica (somewhat lightweight chassis) and mass produced it we would still have to pay ~$60,000 and it would end up a good 400lbs heavier than a standard Corolla or Celica (considering the Tesla is about 400lbs heavier than a Lotus Elise equipped with A/C and a stereo). Then again it would be much faster than the fastest stock corolla XRS or celica GT-S (the Tesla, at the approx weight of the last generation Celica is much faster in the 1/4 mile and 0-60).


Harvey D.,

Could you provide more info on LiIon pricing? I understand that off-the-shelf 16850 LiIons are about $300/kwhr. That seems consistent with the $85kp price for the Tesla, using off-the-shelf 16850's. Further, the A123systems nanotech LiIon in the Dewalt tools appears to be less than $500/kwhr. Am I wrong about that pricing?

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