Honda provided additional details regarding its new small hybrid scheduled for introduction in early 2009, as part of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. CEO Takeo Fukui’s mid-year address. An official name and full product details will be announced later this year.
In addition to weight reduction, Honda is targeting a significant cost reduction in Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) components that will result in what it characterizes as the most affordable hybrid vehicle to date. This dedicated hybrid vehicle will be offered as a 5-door hatchback with seating for five passengers and will employ an exterior design concept that evokes the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle. Along with the Civic Hybrid, the new vehicle will be produced at an expanded IMA production line at Honda’s Suzuka factory in Japan.
Taking advantage of reductions in the size of components, the battery and the internal processing unit will be positioned below the rear cargo area, allowing the hatchback design to provide adequate cargo space to meet the needs of a family. Additionally, various technologies, including a function to assist more fuel efficient driving, are being installed to achieve a further improvement of practical fuel efficiency.
The new small gasoline/electric hybrid vehicle will have expected annual global sales of 200,000 units per year—approximately 100,000 of which are bound for the North American market. Following this launch, Honda also plans to introduce another unique small hybrid vehicle based on the CR-Z sports car first shown at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show as well as a Fit hybrid model. Including the Civic Hybrid, these four hybrid vehicles are expected to reach combined annual global sales of approximately 500,000 units.
The new hybrid will be produced at a newly developed second IMA production line at Honda’s Suzuka factory, which currently produces the Civic Hybrid. With the second line in operation and improvements in IMA production efficiency, hybrid production capacity at Suzuka will increase from 70,000 vehicles per year to approximately 250,000 units, with future expansion possible if needed.