Mass production of the all-new 2023 Honda CR-V hybrid began at Honda of Canada Mfg. (HCM). The CR-V hybrid features a new two-motor hybrid system produced at Honda’s Ohio Transmission Plant (TMP-O), and a newly refined Atkinson-cycle engine unique to hybrid models that is made at the Anna Engine Plant (AEP), also in Ohio.
The Indiana Auto Plant (IAP) and the East Liberty Auto Plant (ELP) in Ohio, which produced the previous CR-V Hybrid, will begin production of the 2023 CR-V hybrid in the coming months. HCM is the global lead plant for CR-V hybrid production, the first time a hybrid has been built in Canada.
Representing a key step in Honda’s electrification strategy, starting with the 2023 model year, about 50% of CR-V’s annual sales in the US will be powered by Honda’s new, more powerful fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system.
The all-new 2023 Honda CR-V Sport and Sport Touring trims come standard with the new hybrid system featuring the more refined 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine that adds direct fuel injection and Honda’s new fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system, featuring a pair of electric motors now arranged side-by-side in a parallel axis layout.
This new configuration allows for the use of a larger propulsion motor with increased torque output. Combined system output is 204 hp (a 3 hp increase, ISO net), while the traction-motor peak torque rises to 247 lb-ft of torque (up 15 lb-ft).
The hybrid-electric system is more refined at highway speeds and for the first time offers up to 1,000 pounds of towing capacity. Linear Shift Control elevates the driving experience by mimicking the vehicle speed-linked rev feel associated with a conventional drivetrain shifting gears at wide open throttle. The new hybrid-electric system also allows for a substantial increase in continuous maximum speed, which climbs from 86 mph to 115 mph.
The new CR-V is longer and wider with premium proportions and a significantly broader stance, further advancing the Honda rugged design direction for light trucks with a low horizontal beltline and a long, powerful front end. Honda’s most popular SUV backs up its strong new looks with a more fun-to-drive personality, more confident and refined dynamics, and increased torque and capability.
All three plants producing CR-V in North America—HCM, IAP and ELP—worked in close collaboration with the Anna Engine Plant (AEP) and the Honda Transmission Plant in Ohio (TMP-O), which are responsible for the all-new powertrain for the latest Honda electrified vehicle.
With the sales plan of the new CR-V and Accord hybrid trims expected to represent about 50% of the sales mix of each model, and three different Honda plants in North America producing the new CR-V hybrid models, both AEP and TMP-O were required to increase production volume for the new engine and hybrid system.
For AEP, this increase included more in-house production of engine components and an increase in local sourcing for parts previously supplied from Japan. For example, AEP is now producing the camshaft for the engine in-house, requiring new equipment and a higher number of processes for associates. TMP-O associates will be increasing production volume of the two-motor system 300% (from 500 to 1500 units per day) within just the first two to three months.
The 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine built at AEP is the first Honda engine to combine high-pressure direct-injection with multistage injection for an extremely homogeneous mixture that delivers clean combustion.
An associate at the Anna Engine Plant assembles the Atkinson-cycle engine.
To control high exhaust gas temperatures, the cylinder head uses a new two-piece water jacket, new gas-cooling exhaust ports and a large capacity cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve to bring exhaust gases from the exhaust system back into the chamber to reduce emissions.
The cylinder head is the largest that associates at AEP have ever produced and required modifications to the cylinder head casting area. The cylinder head casting department implemented a unique sand core mould designed by the production engineering team to accommodate the new EGR valve and enhance productivity for cylinder head production.
The engine also features a more rigid crankshaft and secondary balancer to reduce vibration and all-urethane engine cover, a first for Honda. Honda associates at AEP apply new lightweight fiber-foam insulators, that are highly resistant to heat and vibration, directly on the engine in three different places, creating a quieter and more comfortable ride.
The fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system made at TMP-O features a new arrangement, switching from coaxial motors of the same size stacked on top of each other to a two-motor parallel axis system with engines of different sizes mounted side-by-side. The new system also includes new high- and low-speed lockup ratios for direct engine drive on the highway and in the city.
Associates at the Ohio Transmission Plant assemble the two-motor hybrid unit.
Altogether, the new design improves responsiveness for a sportier driving feel and creates a more relaxed driving environment at highway speeds. It also allows for a higher sustained top speed, improves fuel economy and enables up to 1,000 pounds of towing.
TMP-O is the lead plant for production of the new two-motor system in North America. Combined with the higher volume production to meet Honda’s hybrid sales strategy, TMP-O associates were challenged with an increased number of parts—more than double the previous system—that had to be matured for mass production. The new system has more than 80 new parts being sourced from local suppliers, compared to just over 20 parts with the outgoing system.
Smart automation was employed in several locations to minimize the number of machines TMP-O added to produce the new system, boosting efficiency and reducing the need for additional space and investment. For example, the TMP-O machining department worked to commonize features and minimize the need for exclusive tooling. The assembly team then worked to apply flexible automation utilizing common robots that can quickly change end-of-the-arm tooling when running different models. This was a unique approach from what Honda plants in Japan and China pursued and paid off with increased flexibility and efficiency and more efficient use of floor space within the Ohio facility.
While installing new equipment and processes for the fourth-generation two-motor hybrid-electric system, TMP-O also had to continue production of the third-generation two-motor system on the same manufacturing lines to meet demand for the record sales of current CR-V and Accord hybrid models. Key strategies included adopting sub-assembly lines for the new shaft in order to keep the main assembly line processes the same, even with different and larger parts.
TMP-O associates also worked to reduce the length of time required for line modifications by one and a half months to enable the team to start production trials earlier and continue production of the prior generation two-motor unit.
Honda has produced automobiles in North America for 40 years, beginning in November 1982 at the Marysville Auto Plant. Honda began manufacturing operations in North America in 1979 with motorcycle production in Marysville, Ohio.
Cumulatively, Honda has invested nearly $24.6 billion in its North American manufacturing capabilities, including more than $3.6 billion over the past five years alone. The company works with nearly 800 original equipment suppliers in North America with cumulative parts purchases of more than $535 billion.