The auto industry took another small step up in its long climb to a 54.5 mile-per-gallon average this week, as Honda Motor Co. officially rolled out a 50-mpg hybrid version of one of the country's best-selling cars.
The long-awaited 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid will use a gasoline-electric powertrain to reach an EPA rating of 50 mpg city, 45 highway, and 47 combined. That puts it ahead of competing midsize hybrids, such as the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, and Hyundai Sonata, but still behind the Toyota Prius, which gets 51 mpg in the city.
Honda reached the 50-mpg milestone with a clever combination of all-electric, hybrid, and engine-only driving modes.
Click on the photo below to check out Honda's 50-mpg hybrid.
Honda's 2014 Accord hybrid will offer 50 mpg city, 45 mpg highway, and 47 combined. Manufacturer's suggested retail price starts at $29,155. (Source: Honda Motor Co.)
All-electric. In this mode, the Accord's 124-kW electric traction motor turns the wheels, drawing power from a 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery for the first few miles.
Hybrid. When the battery is quickly depleted, the Accord kicks into series hybrid mode, using its gasoline engine to power a generator, which feeds current to the electric motor to drive the wheels.
Engine-only. At approximately 40 mph, the unique aspect of the powertrain shows itself. Then, the electric motor is decoupled, and a clutch engages the crankshaft of the two-liter gasoline engine. In this "direct-drive" mode, the car uses only its engine for power.
Honda said the three modes are governed by a number of variable factors, but always with the idea of eking out extra fuel economy. "It always seeks the best possible efficiency," Honda spokesman Chris Naughton told Design News. "It will seamlessly transition between all three of the modes."
The new vehicle, scheduled to go on sale later this month, is a slightly more conventional twist on the 2014 Accord Plug-In Hybrid, announced earlier this year. Its 1.3-kWh battery is smaller than the plug-in's 6.7-kWh battery, which can take the car approximately 13 miles in all-electric mode. The plug-in also offers owners the opportunity to recharge the batteries by plugging them in at night, which the new conventional hybrid does not.
Automotive experts called Honda's approach a conservative and profitable way to electrify its fleet. "This is what you're going to see from a lot of mainstream manufacturers going forward," Thilo Koslowski, vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner Inc., told Design News. "There isn't a way yet for volume manufacturers to offer fully electric vehicles at a price point that would guarantee them profit. With a hybrid, you don't need a breakthrough in battery technology to make it competitive."
Honda does offer a pure electric car. The Honda Fit EV, as it's known, is not targeted for big sales numbers, however, with production volumes being limited in the first three years.
"The manufacturers are starting to make their bets," Koslowski said. "And the hybrid is certainly a much safer bet for mainstream automakers than a fully electric vehicle."
Your experience with Hondas is common, bobjengr. I recently spoke to someone who traded in his Honda Accord with 455,000 miles on it. He said he would still be driving if he hadn't left it in a parking lot that flooded near O'Hare Airport in Chicago earlier this year. Prior to the flood, he said he expected the car to exceed half a million miles with no problem.
Constitution man, I totally agree with you on the traditional (parallel) hybrid vehicles. It's not worth the additional $3-4k to improve your gas mileage by 5-10 MPG.
However, if you pay a little more up front for an EV or PHEV and actually add a digit to your mileage, say go from 24 MPG to 240 MPG, then that's another story. The $35,000 Volt - $7,500 FTC = $28k. But, when you factor in the savings on gas and maintenance, the vehicles really begin to make sense and cents.
Thank you Charles for the update and great slide show. I have owned two Honda Civics and drove them both towards 250,000 miles before trading. Both Honda and Toyota have remarkable reliability records which I feel is due to their conservative design. I only hope the Honda Accord Hybrid can achieve the same reliability. I think the "engine only" design is very unique and it will be very interesting to see how the design holds up relative to everyday driving.
Let's see here... Honda's gettin' it done for $10K less than Chevy Volt, even when you factor in GM's HUGE rebate of $7500 [sponsored by the White house] and their recent price slash of $5000.
Honda Accord Hybrid versus Toyota Prius...
MSRP's are very comparable, but the Honda is still not as efficient as a Prius.
But then again, it won't draw so many "butt ugly" remarks, either.
Honda Accord Hybrid versus a Dart with a conventional gas engine drivetrain...
I'll head the other direction for a moment and say... why not save ANOTHER 10 grand UP FRONT and buy a Dodge Dart?
Even if it's 10 mpg less efficient than the Honda... 100K mile's worth of $3.50 gas is only another $2300... and it isn't "financed" or "up front". It's pay as you go.
...still NOT sold on hybrids... GM, Honda, or Toyota... NOBODY. The economics are simply NOT there. Even if it is time to replace your car, it will not pencil. I cannot afford to care so much about mpg when the real yardstick for me [and most car owners, for that matter] is COST PER MILE of ownership.
I have come to the conclusion, respectfully, that hybrids and EV's are for people who can afford to cuddle the spotted owl with their checkbooks...
Look, I'm really not trying to brag or boast here. I'm only trying to share the TRUTH about the Volt. The REAL data about the Volt. Not the garbage you read in mainstream media.
I also haven't seen a bit of a decay in the battery capacity - after 36,000 miles. I went 46 miles on a single charge just this weekend (and had 2 miles remaining). That is NOT what I'm hearing from Leaf owners with that many miles on their vehicle - remember that their battery is air-cooled.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.