NAIAS 2012: New Honda Accord to feature next-gen powertrains including plug-in hybrid

  • 10-Jan-2012 02:40 EST
001_2013_Accord_Coupe_Concept.jpg

The 2013 Accord will introduce several new safety features, including a Honda-first side curtain airbag with a wider deployment profile to enhance ejection mitigation.

Honda provided the first glimpse of its upcoming ninth-generation Accord with the Accord Coupe Concept at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on Jan. 10 in Detroit.

The 2013 Accord, which will go on sale this fall, will feature three all-new powertrains, including the first U.S. application of both a 2.4-L direct-injected engine and two-motor plug-in hybrid system from Honda’s next-generation Earth Dreams powertrain technologies. The V6 Accord will be the first Honda sedan to feature a new six-speed automatic transmission (AT).

The Honda two-motor hybrid system moves continuously through three modes: all-electric, gasoline-electric, and direct-drive. In all-electric mode, the Accord Plug-In Hybrid will use a 6 kW·h lithium-ion battery and a 120-kW electric motor to achieve an all-electric range of about 10 to 15 mi (16 to 24 km) in city driving scenarios and a top speed of 62 mph (100 km/h). Fully recharging the battery is expected to take less than 4 h using a 120-V outlet, and less than 1.5 h using a 240-V charger.

In gasoline-electric hybrid mode, the Accord is powered by its 2.0-L i-VTEC inline four-cylinder, Atkinson cycle engine, paired with an electric CVT (E-CVT). For more efficient high-speed cruising, the Accord Plug-In Hybrid can engage in a direct-drive mode, in which only the engine drives the front wheels.

The Accord Plug-In Hybrid is scheduled to launch next winter.

The new Earth Dreams 2.4-L i-VTEC four-cylinder will be paired to a six-speed manual transmission or a new CVT with a “cooperative control system.” The engine produces more than 181 hp (135 kW) and 177 lb·ft (240 N·m) of torque, compared to the current Accord LX four-cylinder engine’s 177 hp (132 kW) and 161 lb·ft (218 N·m).

The new CVT will be about 5% more efficient than Honda’s current CVTs used on its hybrid vehicles. “This CVT is designed to be more efficient but also more fun to drive, to get positive engagement,” spokesman Chris Martin told AEI. “This one is designed to better mimic what people expect out of an automatic transmission. That’s traditionally been why we haven’t applied CVTs in the U.S., because U.S. consumers would not be happy with them on most conventional cars… With the Accord, this new CVT will have performance feel and efficiency.”

The 2013 Accord sedan and coupe will also be offered with a re-engineered 3.5-L i-VTEC V6 engine, paired to the new six-speed AT or an available six-speed manual transmission. Six-speed AT-equipped models will use Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) technology.

All 2013 Accord models will incorporate Honda’s ECO Assist system, which enhances vehicle efficiency at the push of a button, and provides visual feedback to the driver to promote and confirm more efficient driving.

Honda expects both the Accord sedan and coupe models to achieve better fuel economy than their predecessors and become class-leaders in fuel economy ratings.

The Accord Coupe will remain similarly sized, but the new sedan will be shorter in length and “significantly” lighter in weight than the current generation, according to Honda, with the goal of achieving more responsive handling and improved driving dynamics. Both models will retain their current interior volume.

Similar to other recent Honda models, weight reduction largely stems from increased use of high-strength steels. “Engine efficiency and transmission efficiency are a huge part of how we’re going to achieve better fuel economy, but weight is carrying the load, too,” Martin said.

The 2013 Accord also will introduce several new safety features, including a Honda-first side curtain airbag with a wider deployment profile to enhance ejection mitigation. According to John Mendel, Executive Vice President of Sales for American Honda, this application comes two years in advance of new safety regulations taking effect in 2015.

The new Accord will be available with Honda’s first application of lane departure warning (LDW) and forward crash warning (FCW) technology. It also will be the company’s first model to receive a LaneWatch blind-spot display, which uses a camera system mounted on the passenger mirror to offer the driver a better view.

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