Honda CEO Takanobu Ito has given a look at the direction Honda will be taking in the coming years, putting strong emphasis on small cars and hybrids. At his annual mid-year speech, Ito gave a rough outline of the Japanese automaker’s future direction, while dropping a few important notes about new products.
Two important new hybrids will join the automaker’s lineup: a revised Civic Hybrid and plug-in hybrid. The Civic Hybrid (which will be the only version of the Civic Honda plans to sell in Japan in the future) will toss its conventional nickle metal hydride battery for a more advanced lithium ion unit, that will be more powerful and more compact. That model is set to debut in 2012 in both the U.S. and Japan.
That same year Honda also intends to bring a plug-in hybrid model to market, as well as a battery-electric “commuter vehicle.” It’s not yet clear if the plug-in hybrid will be a version of the Civic Hybrid, or perhaps a version of the Insight or CR-Z.
In addition, Honda will expand its hybrid lineup with a long list of small cars, many of which are also tipped to include hybrid drivetrains. The first of these will be the Fit Hybrid, which is set to debut this Fall – possibly at the Paris Auto Show.
Honda is expected to stick with it’s IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) hybrid setup for these new models. While not as sophisticated as Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, nor as good on fuel, it is significantly less expensive, allowing Honda to equip smaller cars with the system and to sell them at more affordable rates.
In the same timeframe Honda is expected to debut a new small car for emerging markets like India. Last year Honda hinted at the direction this new model would take when it unveiled its New Small Concept at the Auto Expo show in New Delhi, India.
Beyond 2012, Honda will look to add electric vehicles to its lineup, improve upon its gasoline and diesel engines, with a new diesel engine being developed for Europe that is smaller than the current 2.2-liter offering). Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles are also in the automaker’s plans, with Ito commenting that the company’s FCX Clarity, “will provide the ultimate mobility.”
GALLERY: Honda New Small Concept
Several new models are planned for emerging markets that will also be locally built to improve cost effectiveness. A new sub-£7000 small car will be launched in India next year, while Thailand will also get an “eco-car with an excellent level of fuel economy” in 2011. This model will be exported to other emerging nations, too.