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Honda to get greener

Future car: Honda says it will produce a fuell cell vehicle by 2009.

Honda Motor Co outlines its hybrid, diesel and fuel cell plans for the future

24 May 2006

HONDA has announced a raft of new developments aimed at strengthening its core global business and reasserting itself as a leader in economical vehicles.

Among the future plans are a new dedicated petrol-electric hybrid car to sit below the current Civic hybrid, a fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) and a diesel engine it claims will be as clean as a petrol engine.

The hybrid and FCV, the latter to be based on the FCX concept, are both expected to be on sale by 2009.

The new hybrid will replace the radical Insight coupe no longer sold in Australia (and about to be discontinued overseas) and Honda claims that advancements in fuel-efficient technologies and cost reduction strategies will make it cheaper than the Civic.

The more affordable hybrid vehicle, including the powertrain, will be built atHonda’s Suzuka factory in Japan with an annual production forecast of 200,000 a year – half of which is expected to be sold in the US.

Under a new roadmap for the future announced last week, Honda Motor Co president and CEO Takeo Fukui said that, apart from the hybrid, diesel and FCV, the company was planning two new factories, one in Japan and the other in the US.

While improving the efficiency of its petrol engines with Advanced VTEC, advanced variable cylinder management and other technologies were priorities, Honda wants to make its hybrid technology more broadly available, including in future small cars like the Jazz.

The diesel technology, too, would be available in vehicles apart from the Accord, including possibly the Odyssey, MDX and Legend.

Honda plans to introduce this super-clean diesel engine to market within the next three years but is also working on a V6 diesel.

Mr Fukui said the company wanted to establish advanced manufacturing systems and capabilities, strengthen the foundation for overseas growth, and strengthenits commitment to reducing its environmental footprint.

The production FCX is expected to be unveiled in September with production slated to start within three years.

Honda’s new four-cylinder diesel will be based on the successful diesel engine currently sold in Europe, although the newer engine will be cleaner.

It will meet the US EPA’s stringent Tier2 BIN5 emission standard, which comes into effect in California in 2009, requiring NOx emission levels equivalent to petrol-powered cars.

Honda will continue pursuing more proactive efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, with the main focus on CO2 reduction.

Among the other revelations in Mr Fukui’s speech was building a research and development centre in Sakura, Tochigi, which will come on stream in 2009.

Furthermore, Honda’s new plant at Yorii in Japan will be capable of synchronous production – from engine to an entire car – and will startoperation from 2010.

Both the Japanese plant and the US plant, which comes on stream from 2008, will have an annual production capacity of 200,000 vehicles.

With the Yorii plant on-line, Honda’s total annual production capacity in Japan will be increased from the current 1.3 million vehicles to 1.5 million vehicles.

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