TOKYO - If Honda Motor Co. Ltd. decides to add a hybrid powerplant to one of its U.S. light-truck models, the company is more inclined to do so in one of its larger vehicles, a senior Honda official said.
Honda may offer a hybrid SUV powered by a V-6 gasoline engine and electric motor.
"We could probably go with (a V-6 engine), rather than a four-cylinder engine," said Koichi Amemiya, Honda's executive vice president who oversees North American operations.
Among models in Honda's lineup, candidates for such a hybrid powertrain would include the Pilot, Odyssey and Acura MDX. Smaller models such as the Honda CR-V and Element SUVs would be less likely to get a hybrid powerplant.
The choice seems a bit odd, in that Honda has a hybrid Civic on sale in the United States, and putting that powerplant in the CR-V, which is based on the Civic, would be relatively easy.
But Amemiya points out that fuel savings from a hybrid V-6 would be significantly greater than a hybrid four-cylinder when compared to their conventional counterparts. Although he didn't say so, a hybrid V-6 also could be Honda's response to persistent calls from some of its dealers for a V-8 engine.
Amemiya also hopes to add a hybrid car to a lineup that includes the Insight and Civic. "I want to get both" a hybrid car and a hybrid SUV, he told Automotive News.
Amemiya also said Honda will continue to place a high priority on improving the fuel economy of its gasoline models.
And he said Honda has not decided whether to add a hybrid light truck to its offerings. Hybrids are expensive, and Honda wants to be sure a hybrid SUV will appeal to American customers before giving the OK for its development.
Honda is seeing signs that rising gasoline prices are boosting hybrid sales. With war looming in Iraq and oil prices soaring, sales of the hybrid Civic totaled more than 2,200 in February, well above the monthly average of just more than 1,500 since its debut in March 2002.