SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- A hybrid version of the Honda Accord sedan will go on sale in early 2013, but it will be a plug-in hybrid, as opposed to the more mainstream -- and less expensive -- conventional hybrid that consumers are used to. That comes later.
The engine is a 2.0-liter variant of the four-cylinders in the Earth Dreams family, using variable cam timing for better fuel efficiency.
The two-motor hybrid system allows engine power to drive the front wheels, charge the battery pack or power the generator to supply electrical propulsion.
The car defaults to electric vehicle mode at startup and can drive for 10 to 15 miles in EV mode before the gasoline engine kicks in. It is expected to have a range greater than 500 miles, with a miles per gallon equivalent of greater than 100.
Honda says a 240-volt charging system can recover eight miles of EV range in 30 minutes and fully charge in an hour. The car can run its climate control full blast and remain in EV mode, said Yasuyuki Sando, large project leader for the Accord Plug-In Hybrid.
The engine is completely separated from the 6.7 kWh battery by a clutch, which is disengaged when the car is in electric mode. When the battery gets low on range, the engine switches to hybrid mode, the clutch engages so that the engine powers the motor and recharges the battery. When cruising at high speeds, the car runs only on the engine, which has a single, fixed overdrive gear.
Honda uses an electro-servo brake system for regenerative braking, which Sando said is the most advanced way of taking braking energy to recharge the battery.
It has a similar HondaLink tele-matics system to that of the Fit EV, with mobile apps that list range, state of charge, nearby charging stations, cabin temperature and the ability to cool or heat the cabin while the car is plugged in.
All versions of the Accord Plug-In Hybrid will be made in Sayama, Japan.
The conventional two-mode hybrid will arrive in the summer. Pricing was not disclosed.