TOKYO -- The new line of mid-sized plug-in hybrids that Honda Motor Co. aims to introduce next year will be able to travel up to 15 miles in electric-only mode, an executive says.
That would counter criticism that Honda's current hybrid technology is too weak to provide extended motor-only travel. The Integrated Motor Assist system used in the Honda Insight, Civic and CR-Z hybrids uses the electric motor mostly to assist the gasoline engine.
The new technology, which is scheduled to debut in 2012, is a two-motor system that runs on a lithium ion battery. The battery will be supplied through Blue Energy Co., Honda's battery joint venture with GS Yuasa Corp, said Hirohisa Ogawa, a chief engineer of battery research at Honda.
Ogawa, speaking at the International Rechargeable Battery Expo in Tokyo, said the new plug-ins would be able to run nine to 15 miles in electric-only mode.
Honda began testing the vehicles late last year, he added.
President Takanobu Ito has said his engineers are preparing to put the system in the Accord mid-sized sedan. Honda discontinued an earlier hybrid Accord, which was equipped with the Integrated Motor Assist system, in part because it was underpowered.