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Two hybrid Honda Accords a chance for Australia

Plug and go: The Honda Accord plug-in hybrid is claimed to have a total range of more than 80km, with up to 24km of travel on electricity alone.

Plug-in, standard hybrid versions of next-gen Honda Accord on radar for Australia


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11 Sep 2012

HONDA Australia is considering two types of petrol-electric Accord – plug-in hybrid and standard hybrid – in the ninth-generation mid-sized sedan that is set to arrive in Australia in its conventional petrol-powered form in the middle of next year.

The plug-in Accord – the first vehicle of its type from the Japanese company that pioneered petrol-electric hybrid technology with its Insight in 1999 – will be launched early next year in the United States where a prototype was recently unveiled.

Honda claims the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) Accord can run on electricity alone for up to 24km and has a total driving range of more than 800km.

American Honda will source its Accord PHEV from Honda’s Sayama factory in Japan, where the smaller Accord Euro is built for Australia.

That factory would also likely be the source of the Accord PHEV for Australia, should Honda Australia decide to add it to the line-up.

The standard hybrid Accord – probably using a version of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system offered in other Honda hybrid models such as the CR-Z – is expected to be sourced from Thailand, along with the new-generation four-cylinder and V6 petrol Accord models, again using the same body style as the American version.

IMA sandwiches an electric motor/generator between the petrol engine and transmission, providing “mild hybrid” assistance under acceleration to help reduce fuel consumption while boosting performance.

Honda Australia public relations manager Melissa Cross told GoAuto that Honda had no time frame for the local introduction of either Accord hybrid.

At 4862mm long, the new Accord is 88mm shorter than the outgoing model but still 122mm longer than the current Euro.

The smaller size, combined with the news that Honda will build the PHEV at Sayama, raises the question that the Accord might follow the new Mazda6 in having a single global body-style.

Ms Cross said Honda was “unable to provide details about the next Euro”, but said the company “still sees a place for both models”.

“The Accord Euro remains an important model for Honda Australia,” said Ms Cross, who added that the two-pronged Accord strategy “has been successful for us, as the cars appeal to very different buyers”.

“Globally, the Accord is one of our most important models and an iconic nameplate with a long history,” she said. “There is still demand for this car in our market.”

The Honda plug-in hybrid powertrain was revealed at the Detroit motor show in January, alongside an Accord Coupe concept.

The Accord PHEV defaults to electric running, but the 102kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine kicks if the 6.7kWh lithium-ion battery pack is depleted or if strong acceleration or high speeds are required.

In this ‘HV’ mode, the internal-combustion engine and 124kW electric motor combine to send a maximum of 146kW to the front wheels.

The vehicle than behaves like a conventional hybrid, with power from the engine and and motor blended for maximum efficiency.

Drivers can also select ‘HV Charge’ mode, which forces the Accord PHEV to drive like a conventional hybrid but with priority to maintaining charge in the battery pack.

This is useful for long intercity journeys, for which the urban sections at each end can be driven in electric-only mode to reduce local emissions.

Honda expects the Accord PHEV to achieve a US miles per gallon equivalent (MPG-e) of better than 100. The Chevrolet Volt is rated at 98MPG-e, and its Holden equivalent is rated at 1.2 litres per 100km.

The Japanese company says the Accord PHEV can be charged in less than a hour from a 240-volt Level 2 charger – claimed to be class-leading.

Like most cars of its ilk, the plug-in Accord’s charging status can be monitored using a smartphone app, which can also be used to pre-set the car’s internal temperature using mains electricity before a journey, schedule charging to exploit cheap off-peak energy savings and locate public charging points.

Honda says it has mounted the battery pack above the rear suspension to reduce its intrusion into interior and boot space while giving it extra protection against crash damage.

Offsetting the weight of the battery pack are an aluminium front subframe, aluminium bonnet, aluminium brake pedal, aluminium rear bumper beam and a puncture repair kit instead of a spare wheel.

It is also more aerodynamic, with a unique front bumper, under-body cladding and a rear spoiler while the special aerodynamically designed, lightweight 17-inch forged alloy wheels are shod with low-rolling-resistance tyres, and spin on low-friction wheel bearings.

Honda has borrowed the Jazz EV’s electric servo braking system, which is claimed to reduce the unnatural pedal feel commonly associated with EV and hybrid regenerative braking systems while increasing the amount of charge that can be gleaned from deceleration.

Inside is ‘Bio Fabric’ upholstery claimed to be as soft and durable as conventional fabric but with reduced environmental impact.

Like the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Honda PHEV is a high-spec variant packed with gadgets including touch-screen audio, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, internet radio, voice recognition, dual-zone climate-control, 10-way electric driver’s seat adjustment with memory and heated front seats.

Along with a full complement of standard electronic safety aids and airbags, the plug-in Accord will come with forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, an auto-dimming interior mirror, a reversing camera and LED headlights with LED daytime running lights.

Honda has also applied a warning sound to alert pedestrians of the PHEV’s presence when travelling silently in electric-only mode.

Just three exterior colours will be included, including White Orchid Pearl and Crystal Black Pearl from the standard new-generation Accord plus an exclusive Burnished Silver Metallic hue.

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