First announced as part of the upcoming Acura NSX and RLX, Honda is developing a three-stage hybrid rollout strategy that will include applications specifically targeted to premium, mid-size and compact models.
First shown in the RLX, which we recently had the change to test out again in prototype form, is Honda’s updated SH-AWD system, using a front hybrid V6 engine with two electric motors in the rear. The system will debut with at least 370-HP in the production RLX at the LA Auto Show in just a few weeks time.
A second system, designed for mid-size products is the Sport Hybrid i-MMD (Intelligent Multi Mode Drive). Having already tested the i-MMD Plug-in technology on the 2014 Accord Plug-in Hybrid, Honda gave journalists their first taste of the non-hybrid version earlier this week at the company’s R&D Center in Utsunomiya, Japan.
With a smaller lithium-ion battery pack than the plug-in model, it delivers an equal 196 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque, though requires a more light-footed approach to the throttle in order to use electric-only power.
A final, all-new Sport Hybrid platform designed for compact cars and smaller is one that will eventually replace the current IMA Integrated Motor Assist system, first introduced in the Honda Insight in 1999 and currently still in use in an advanced form in cars like the CR-Z and Civic Hybrid. This new system, called Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive (i-DCD) combines a 1.5-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. While technically a series hybrid system, like IMA, it functions more like a series-parallel system (similar to the Toyota Prius), enabling propulsion using gas, electricity or a combination of both.
Compared to the current system, which gets as much as 44 mpg combined in the Civic Hybrid, this new powertrain will be as much as 30 percent more efficient while also offering 15 percent improved acceleration.
Engineers at the Honda R&D facility confirmed a one to two mile electric only range at roughly 32 mph, with a maximum EV speed of 44 mph.
With the Accord PHEV set to go on sale next year, look for the non plug-in model to arrive shortly thereafter. The RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD model should arrive roughly within the same time frame, followed by the new small-car hybrid system.