Honda is keen to increase the number of hybrids it sells in Europe, but is holding back from adding them while diesel reigns supreme throughout the continent.
“We have new hybrids coming through and would love to launch them in Europe, but Europe prefers diesels. It is not as keen on hybrids,” says Toshihiro Mibe, the managing director of the development division and father of Honda’s current Earth Dreams engine programme. “We have completed our development and are discussing the possibilities.”
Honda currently offers a hybrid version of the Jazz in the UK, while the two-seater CR-Z is available only with an electrified powertrain. Both use a single-motor drive system which assists the internal combustion engine but does not drive the car unaided. However, Honda’s major sellers – the Civic hatch and CR-V crossover – are exclusively petrol- or diesel-powered.
But Honda is working on or has completed several alternative hybrid powertrains which can take over a greater share of the driving duties to lower fuel consumption and emissions.
There is a single-motor Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive (i-DCD) system, available in the Japanese-market Fit (the 2015 Jazz for the UK), which is said to be 30 per cent more efficient than the hybrid powertrain known to British buyers.
It pairs a 1.5-litre direct-injection engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with built-in high-output motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. It has yet to be decided whether this will come to the UK.
For mid-sized cars, starting with the Japanese and US Accord hybrid and plug-in hybrid, Honda has a two-motor Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD) arrangement. Here, the petrol engine is linked to an electric continuously variable (CVT) transmission and two electric motors with a lock-up clutch so it can operate in three driving modes.
Finally there is the triple-motor Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system running in the Acura RLX saloon and currently being adapted for the NSX supercar.
In the front-engined RLX, one motor is combined with the 3.5-litre V6 engine while the others are fitted to the rear wheels. As a result the car has a four-wheel-drive system which can vary the amount of torque sent to either side at the rear.
Because the NSX will have a mid-mounted engine, the single motor will be located towards the rear with the two wheel motors at the front. The NSX will come to the UK, but the chances of SH-AWD being offered on anything else in Europe are slim to zero.