By on July 15, 2010

Reuters reports that Honda has canceled plans to build a new minicar and diesel engine plant north of Tokyo, as the company focuses its product offerings ahead of worldwide emissions standards ramp-ups. Honda’s move away from diesel has been slowly building for years, and the strategy was all but confirmed by the cancellation of a US-market Acura TSX diesel, which was replaced by the V6 TSX. Instead of developing new oil-burners, Honda is focusing on a new hybrid drivetrain capable of powering its larger vehicles. Thus far Honda has kept a conservative approach to hybrids, refining its “mild hybrid” IMA system over several generations. As Honda seeks to improve its fleetwide emissions, this new system (which could be Honda’s first “full hybrid”) has taken on new importance. Honda will officially announce its medium-range plans next Tuesday… and don’t be surprised if it involves a new full hybrid system capable of going toe-to-toe with Toyota’s Synergy Drive.

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18 Comments on “Honda Ditches Diesel, Focuses On New (Full?) Hybrid Drivetrain...”


  • avatar
    educatordan

    “Honda ditches diesel…”

    Without EVER bringing ONE to the US. Sigh… Although Honda has misstepped in styling and in a few other calculations over the years, I still perceive it as the company where the engineers most get to do what they want. I would have loved to sample a Honda diesel.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Honda can’t give up on diesel completely, otherwise there will be a big gap in their European line up. Also (not that I’ve driven one), I’ve heard that Honda diesels were very quiet and very good. Be a shame to let that technology go to rot.

    Incidentally, people think Honda’s styling is a miss, but I think it’s OK. The Civic is futuristic (but I can’t stand the back) and the Accord is nice. But I’m talking about the European line up.

  • avatar
    tced2

    Yeah right, a V6 TSX is the equivalent of a diesel TSX. ???
    How are they going to fit the unit pictured under the hood of any Honda?

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Pictured is the existing flywheel IMA, which hardly takes any space at all. I think its the Civic hybrid engine shown. The Insight uses an L-series engine from the Fit/Jazz, which is narrower.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    This is a shame for sure. Modern passenger-car diesels are so far removed from what our country experienced 30 years ago that one could easily get into and drive a vehicle and not even know it was a diesel (happened to me in England with a Ford station wagon, was in it for four days before I found out it was a diesel!).

    I’m on a Honda Odyssey discussion forum, and many folks have been salivating over the potential for an Odyssey diesel for years now. Oh well . . . (sigh)

    Does anybody else besides me see just a small bit of similarity in the way that Honda and Toyota are now being run with how the Big 3 used to operate???

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Didn’t you notice the fabulous fuel economy? (Just kidding you, I get your point.)

      Even the limited number of passenger car diesels in the US are getting better and I’ve noticed it’s getting harder to know a VW TDI by it’s idle. Pickup trucks are definitely still perceptible as diesels, but there engines are closer to what you find in a Kenworth then what you would find in a car. Even truck and semi tractor diesels are getting smoother, I remember during my childhood when a Cummins turbo Dodge would shake at idle like an incontinent Chihuahua.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      @educatordan

      The image of an incontinent Chihuahua is now seared into my mind. Thanks. :)

      It does make for an interesting image though, in a purely 3rd grade potty humor kind of way.

      Yo quero Taco Bell.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    The 9th-gen Civic that is expected to be released at the end of 2011 is suppose to become a hybrid-only model in Japan, with no gas-only option. For Japan it makes sense, the Prius is the #1 selling car in the country, with the Fit and Insight as #2 and #3 respectively. Quite frankly, hybrids sell in Japan, so Honda is investing further.

    Another factor is that due tot he EV push battery prices are coming down rapidly. Hybrids have a fairly small battery size, ~0.9 kwh for the Insight, and 1.3 kwh for the Prius. For comparison, the Leaf has 24 kwh, and uses li-ion batteries rather then the cheaper/heavier nimh batteries in HVs. But as HV’s move to li-ion we should also expect halving of battery weight.

    So the cost premium of EVs are narrowing compared with ICE-only models. Another element is that by moving to a series+parallel setup like Toyota’s they allow themselves the flexibility of a plug-in HV in the future as the economics of battery technology shifts.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    I would rather have a Honda Diesel. God damn you EPA!

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Just amazing. 2010, and Honda is just now thinking about maybe working on a full hybrid system, just now beginning to roll out their first 6-speed automatics, and direct injection is still nowhere in sight for them.

    What happened to this company?

    • 0 avatar
      Zas

      Direct injection is still yet to be a complete proven useful technology without any downside issues. From what I have read, when a DI system fails, the cost of repair is prohibitively expensive versus a traditional fuel-rail setup. Just because Hyundai/Kia and Ford have jumped on this in a serious way, other companies that do have DI engines (VW, Mitsubishi) are taking a cautious approach to it – STILL – due to the technology behind it.

      If I had more time, I would link in references to support my opinion, but since I am at work and posting this over a length of time, unfortunately I cannot.

      I do welcome rebuttals if there are any.

  • avatar
    nikita

    Honda was never on the leading edge of “winning” technology, but they like to do it their way. I hate to say it, but they are sort of like GM, with a “not invented here” attitude. CVCC took them down an interesting side road when EFI was entering the freeway. IMA looked good at the time of the original Insight, but Toyota passed them by. Now they have to play catch up again. Its too late for diesel, so I think this is the best move right now. A series or series + parallel hybrid is a bridge to future all electrics.

    • 0 avatar
      meefer

      Wow, wow. So VTEC, double wishbone suspensions, extensive use of aluminum (structure/panels/engine/suspension), variable volume intake manifolds, and the NSX in general mean nothing to you?

      Sōichirō Honda’s passing in 1991 has left the company without the laser-like focus it used to have on “man maximum, machine minimum.” The RSX was probably the last vehicle the company built that had some of that ideal left. A lot can change in 20 years, and not a lot of it at Honda was any good. The closest equivalent these days is probably Mazda, and that’s just sad.

  • avatar

    Honda is a world class engine manufacturer, why do they insist on making robots and hybrids when they can likely build a better diesel than VW, which incidentally already outperforms Hondas current hybrids.

    I’ve yet to see a hybrid that is more than hype, especially from Honda. Diesel is proven, less complex, and if Honda were to push it, just as acceptable to Americans in 2010.

  • avatar

    My bad, they were a world class engine manufacturer. Sadly there aren’t many examples anymore, especially since they refuse to use direct injection and turbos (despite various assertions by Honda that turbos were the future back in the 80s when they were in F1).

    I’d say Hyundai is closer to where Honda used to be than Honda is today.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      They do use direct-injection and turbos. The K23A1 engine.

      In fact they’ve had it since 2006 in the Acura RDX.

      Even more impressive, the engine had a variable geometry turbo. Common in diesels but rare in gasoline turbos due the high exhaust heat. In fact, the only gasoline engine on the market right now with a variable-geometry turbo and direct injection is the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Acura RDX.

  • avatar

    Hmmmm… the K20 was first-class… but the class is catching up… the new R-series engines are a marvelous blend of efficiency and power… the L-series engine in the first generation Fit (before they ruined it with extra weight and that new 5-speed box) could get some fantastic economy numbers…

    And yet… Honda is a stubborn manufacturer. The perception that they’re lagging behind is due to the fact that they refuse to follow blindly where the market goes. They took longer than others to go V6 with their midsized car (the Accord), and still use one a size smaller than the class leaders. They launched the Ridgeline with a V6. In the days where 2 liters is not enough for a compact, they’ve decided to simply improve their 1.8 to the point where it’s as powerful as a 2.

    They built what is arguably the perfect single person car… the Honda Fit. And yet, as Americans leave in droves for bigger cars with more power, they refuse to compromise (as Toyota-Scion did with the xB) and engorge it and slot in a Civic or Accord engine to follow the market.

    Honda is Honda. They’ll do it their way, for better or for worse. And if you get over the fact that they don’t follow market trends like sheep, you’ll find that their cars make a lot of sense.

    Now the styling, that’s another story.

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