By on September 12, 2012

Honda has developed a new, simple, gasoline-electric hybrid system which “will set a new standard for fuel efficiency and recapture the success of the CVCC engine 40 years ago,” writes Reuters.

The CVCC engine was a technological breakthrough that allowed Honda to meet U.S. emission standards without a catalytic converter.

“We believe we have reached a point with hybrid technology … where we can provide game-changing technology and products,” Honda CEO Takanobu Ito told Paul Ingrassia and Norihiko Shirouzu of Reuters today in Tokyo.

Not much more is known about the engine, but Reuters says it will power the next generation of its cars and could be introduced in the remodeled Fit subcompact car by late 2013 in Japan. For North America, the new Fit will be built in Mexico and will go on sale in the spring of 2014.

Developing new drivetrains costs money, and the hybrid-premium still slows success.  That can be cured with mass production. For the necessary scale, Honda ” absolutely won’t reject an alliance if we can work together with another company in a way that leads to our customers being more impressed with Honda’s products,” Ito said.

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45 Comments on “Honda Develops “Hybrid CVCC”...”


  • avatar
    stephenjmcn

    Good, now that’s done they can set about making cars that don’t look worse than the previous model. I’m looking at you, Euro Civic.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    I’m afraid that with Honda’s recent lack of success in its Hybrid models, Honda may not have the brand credentials to market a truly successful Hybrid no matter how revolutionary their new tech is.

    The only scenario I can imagine is if they went to Toyota as the supposed alliance partner to shine its Hybrid aura on the project. But obviously, Toyota is the king of the hybrid hill and needs no such partnership.

    That said, the decision to plug it into the Fit is probably the smartest move they can make with this plan.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      “The new 2014 Honda Fit! Powered by Prius!”

      They’ll sell millions.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      If the hype is legitimate, I don’t really see the problem. Toyota owns the market because all the other hybrids are either total crap (everything but the Volt) or too expensive without enough upside (Volt). It’s not fair to attribute the success of the Prius to fanboyism when the rest of the field is objectively inferior. I’m sure they have developed brand loyalty at this point, but that is never insurmountable.

      If Honda fields a legitimate competitor, it’ll be fine. If it can deliver a Honda Fit price and come three grand under the Prius, it’ll be golden.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        No doubt honda’s old hybrid tech is inferior as are their overall hybrid vehicles, however, having never ridden in a ford, on paper, they seem to be just as good or better than the toyota offerings. Also, the new honda hybrid setup in the accord, which uses two electric motors and has a highly efficient energy recapture system, seems like a vastly improved take on the toyota hybrid setup.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “Game-changing”?

    It had better be, because Honda has bombed every attempt at hybrids.

    Note to Honda: The success of “CVCC” was due to:
    1. A slick marketing name for the technology, not the technology itself.
    2. Honda rode the wave of Japanese imports to the US. Toyota and Datsun didn’t have CVCC and did just fine.

    Whatever this hybrid design is, it has to be effective and affordable. Ask GM how it worked out in their trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      You beat me to it. As soon as the CEO says “game-changing” they have jumped the shark.

      More like “game-over”

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      The original Honda Insight beat the Toyota Prius to the market. That car achieved EPA ratings which are unmatched to this day by any gasoline car.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      The 1970s CVCC engines allowed Honda to leave out the power sapping 1970s catalytic converters — there’s no doubt the CVCC engines allowed Honda to use a smaller, lighter engine to get the same power as a more complex and heavily smogged car. In my opinion, the success was entirely due to the technology, and the success of the CVCC marketing name was a result of being attached to good tech, not the other way around. I’d make the same case for VTEC, yo. And nothing Honda has done since then.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Bingo. No one except car buffs even knew what CVCC stood for. But everyone knew you could run a Honda on regular gas, which cost significantly less than unleaded. As I recall when Honda finally went to cat converters their motors actually got an HP boost, because they didn’t have to do some of the power-sapping tricks required to pass smog requirements without one.

  • avatar
    Feds

    C’mon magnetic pistons in field wound cylinders!!!

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      Do you know if anyone have tried it? I am thinking of ceramic cylinder walls, with coils. The piston rings might be strong perm magnets to pass closest to the coils. If you are thinking this is a joke, it could be genius. Too bad I do not work R&D at an auto mfg.

      • 0 avatar
        Feds

        No, just popped in my head as an answer to “how could you make a game-changing hybrid system”.

        Aside from the materials issues, control would be interesting. I wonder if you could reduce the tensile and compressive loads on the connecting rods by recovering kinetic energy from the piston…

        Shit, now I have to quit my job and become the next Fish Carburetor guy.

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      Honda did make a motorcycle with oval pistons, the NR750.

      http://preview.tinyurl.com/99as7rv

      So, they are perfectly capable of designing something oddball.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        wrt- Oval pistons: Honda was turning the lemon they were handed into lemonaid. They had designed a sweet little V8 only to have racing rules changed to prohibit them. They made the best of it with the oval pistons changing the V8 into a V4. It was not particularly successful, if memory serves.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      Great Bill Gates get richer (he owns patents related to magnetic piston, coils in the cyl. design).

      But that concept, using ceramic sleeves, along with coils and magnetic pistons in no way goes with “Simple”. Supercapcitor or magnetic flywheel (spinning at 100k (+) rpms) KERS maybe to get around battery limitations? But that doesn’t sound so “simple” either.

      Always wondered why GM didn’t run a transmission b/t the engine and generator in the volt to get more juice for the equiv. RPM’s or vice versa, same juice for less rpm’s (anyone have answer?), maybe that is what Honda is onto and just a single electric motor powering rear or front wheels.

      But as of now, In the Computer world, what Honda currently has is called Vaporware.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    If this news was about any company other than Honda, I wouldn’t believe it for a second.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I think just the opposite. If Toyota announced they had ‘game-changing’ hybrid technology to unleash, I’d believe them. With hybrids, Honda has cried wolf too many times.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Actually, Dude is right. The leader in a technology is very unlikely to displace their own tech, where they have huge investments.

        RCA passed on transistors because of their investment in tubes. Kodak same with digital.

        From the early reviews, the new Accord hybrid and plug-in may already be superior to what Toyota has now.

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        @ thornmark

        Agreed that the leader in the field won’t be too hasty to drop their profitable investment. Toyota would undoubtedly milk their current Hybrid tech for as long as they can while making modest improvements.

        The comparisons are interesting though. Kodak may have had their lunch eaten by the digital revolution because the consumer saw a direct benefit to themselves in the form of convenience of picture sharing, storing and no development time.

        In the case of hybrids, although Honda may have a technically superior product, the general buying public won’t really understand it. How many people who buy cars really understands Variable Valve Timing, or the real benefits of CVT vs Torque Converter Autos?

        What it all boils down to is that Toyota is synonymous with Hybrid technology and it would take a lot for Honda to prove it to the masses, especially in light of their current Hybrid offerings.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        “What it all boils down to is that Toyota is synonymous with Hybrid technology and it would take a lot for Honda to prove it to the masses, especially in light of their current Hybrid offerings.”

        I think the only thing that would matter, is the MPGs and reviews of the car. Word on the street of Hondas current tech is not so good. All you need is something with great #s and reviews and they’d be back in the game.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “Toyota would undoubtedly milk their current Hybrid tech for as long as they can while making modest improvements.”

        Toyota isn’t going to “milk” anything. They have good technology and will spend considerable efforts on improvement.

        Honda, on the other hand, will simply start from a clean sheet of paper and follow up on whatever crazy ideas seem promising.

      • 0 avatar
        spw

        Accord Hybrid looks fine until you check the trunk and notice it is not a mass market product but PR one. Nobody is going to spend that much money on unusable expensive sedan.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Maybe Honda has a rogue band of engineers that think like the elder Mr. Honda did.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    Details or it didn’t happen.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      Actually, that’s what I was thinking. This press release seems a bit un-Honda like.

      BTW, everybody is going along the lines of ‘game-changing’ to mean the hybrid system. A rethink of the energy storage system would be a bigger splash… flywheels anybody?

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        KERS from the failed F1 program?

      • 0 avatar
        stuntmonkey

        That system was electrical. Come to think of it, it would make sense for F-1 KERS to show up in the NSX first. They reckoned it was worth 0.4s a lap… if the regulations allowed for unfettered use (which they don’t), that would be a big 20-30s advantage over a race, the difference between Alonso/Vettle and a midpack driver.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Honda hasn’t done anything “game-changing” in 15 or more years. I truly hope that they do, but given their track record I’m not going to get excited. That, and something “game-changing” would probably have to come out now. In 2 years, it’ll likely just be playing catch-up.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      The Paige Brother’s basic patent on the Toyota and Ford’s dual motor hybrid system has expired, thus Honda is now free to develop their own copy.. they will start with the 2014 Accord Hybrid.

      http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44921

      The HSD system is lower cost since it does not need a transmission, a starter or an alternator.

  • avatar
    carve

    Maybe it’s a turbo-generator to continously extract waste heat energy out of the exhaust.

  • avatar
    ckgs

    I’ve been trying to not be so cynical about Honda. I think Honda has been playing it safe in recent years to best weather the global recession, which they have done quite well. This has resulted in much criticism (“lost their mojo”, etc.) but protected their balance sheet. Now they emerge financially strong with higher market share, and have started releasing more aggressively engineered products. Seems to me the new Accord, along with its new dual mode hybrid, is a sign of things to come.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    I see many similarities between Honda and GM.
    Honda needs a real kick in the ass.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    My guess is a series hybrid. Hyper efficient gas or diesel engine running at one rpm when needed as a range extender. Fancy tech to reduce battery losses, efficient electric motor(s) as the only drive source. Plug in of course.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    Put it in the four-door golf cart on wheels….errrr…Fit, lower the asking price and sell it in droves and I’ll bite.

  • avatar

    It’s a direct injected, turbo charged, lean burn, 1.0 liter three pot, with variable cam turning at 8,500 RPM thru a CVT and marketed thru and Apple-like “Hi! I’m a Prius.” “And I’m a Pre-Mahonda”

  • avatar
    danwat1234

    What this article is about, is Honda’s “Earth Dreams” engines. Engines that have a displacement of 2 liters or less will have Direct Injection (finally) and also an Atkinson valve behavior mode when throttle is low to bring hybrid like fuel economy. The engine will be in OTTO cycle mode when you want power. Engines larger than 2L will have DI but no Atkinson valve behavior.

    Honda’s hybrids will finally be true series+parallel hybrids, not mild hybrids like they have been. They will have similar drivetrains to the Prius. The 2013 CRZ hybrid is going to have an updated drivetrain.

    http://world.honda.com/news/2011/4111130Earth-Dreams-Technology/index.html

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      Exactly what I said on the 5th.. since the patent ran out Honda will finally copy the Toyota (and Ford) hybrid systems.. two motors, the engine and a planetary gear torque blending device. The Volt is similar, just the details and design goal vary.

      In the last few years there have been issues with the Honda hybrid batteries, mostly due to cheapening out the design.. be very careful when purchasing a used Honda Hybrid.. go buy a Prius instead, those are bulletproof


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