Honda isn’t as well known as a hybrid manufacturer as its primary Japanese rival, Toyota. Though Honda has been producing parallel hybrids nearly as long as Toyota, its Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system lacks the popularity of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system.
Now Honda is developing a new lightweight hybrid system, called Sport Hybrid Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive (IDCD), aimed specifically at compact cars. Honda promises its single-motor system will deliver both best-in-class fuel economy and better acceleration than existing IMA drive models.
The IDCD system blends a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine with a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox containing an integrated, high-output electric motor powered by the car’s lithium-ion batteries.
Under heavy acceleration and high-speed driving, the system uses both engine and motor power; at low to medium speeds, however, the car operates primarily as an electric vehicle, assuming the batteries have sufficient charge.
Honda claims its IDCD system can improve efficiency by over 30-percent compared to its previous IMA system, while delivering “linear acceleration.” Though Honda isn’t naming models just yet, we’d expect this to appear in the Civic range
, and possibly even in the CR-Z
For its larger cars (like the all-new Honda Accord
), the automaker offers a two-motor Sport Hybrid Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (IMMD), which features three distinct drive modes. “EV Drive” allows the vehicle to operate in pure electric mode, which could deliver reasonable range in planned plug-in versions.
“Engine Drive” is used for medium to high speeds, while “Hybrid Drive” (which blends power from the gasoline engine and electric motors) is engaged during heavy acceleration and stop-and-go city driving.
Finally, the hybrid system that most enthusiasts will find interesting is the three-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SHSH-AWD). Using a pair of electric motors driving the rear wheels, combined with a gasoline engine and seven-speed, dual clutch transmission with an integrated electric motor up front, the system offers an ideal blend of performance and fuel economy.
Torque can be precisely metered out to the rear wheels for optimal traction across a wide range of surfaces and road conditions. Up front, the 3.5-liter V-6 work with the supplemental electric motor to deliver V-8 acceleration while returning V-6 fuel economy.
The net result is a system that can deliver the performance benefits of all-wheel-drive, yet minimize the weight penalty of traditional systems. Look for Honda and Acura to debut this Sport Hybrid system on range-topping and sport-themed vehicles in the very near future.