UTSUNOMIYA, Japan -- Honda Motor Co., fighting to restore its reputation for innovation, is poised to open a "toy box" of new technologies and products that will make it the industry leader in fuel efficiency, the company's top car engineer says.
The coming three-year blitz -- based on the company's new range of "Earth Dreams" engines, transmissions and hybrid systems -- will boost the average fuel economy of its fleet 10 percent, says Yasuhisa Arai, senior managing officer at Honda R&D Co.
"It's going to be like a bottomless toy box, pulling out something new one after another," Arai told Automotive News at Honda's global technical center north of Tokyo. He laid out the time frame for launching the technologies on several vehicles, starting with the redesigned Accord, which goes on sale this autumn.
"We've been in the top group for fuel efficiency for some time. And we want to break out of that group and lead the industry through the innovation of Earth Dreams," Arai said.
It remains to be seen, though, if Earth Dreams is truly revolutionary or just evolutionary. "The technology itself is almost identical to the similar direction of everyone else. Almost everyone has direct-injection engines these days," CFO Fumihiko Ike concedes.
The Earth Dreams suite of technologies, unveiled last November, represents the biggest overhaul of Honda's drivetrain since its introduction of VTEC variable-valve timing in the late 1980s.
The biggest step for Earth Dreams is the widespread application of direct injection across the company's gasoline engine lineup. Honda is a neophyte to this fuel-saving technology, having briefly employed it in only one nameplate with a gasoline engine.