Honda Motor Co. unveiled a series of downsized, turbocharged engines and an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, rounding out its line of Earth Dreams powertrains with ones that offer more performance without sacrificing fuel economy.
Tetsuo Iwamura, CEO of American Honda Motor Co., declined to say which of the automaker's U.S. nameplates would get which engines. But Iwamura, who also heads Honda's automobile operations globally, said the automaker plans to switch its existing gasoline engines to turbos "as much as possible."
The unveiling of the new engines and transmission, and Iwamura's remarks, came during media events before the Tokyo Motor Show, including an advanced technology briefing at its global r&d center north of Tokyo. The show's press days are Wednesday, Nov. 20, and Thursday, Nov. 21. The show opens to the public on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Performance, fuel economy
The new downsized engines use turbocharging, direct injection and Honda's variable valve timing system, known as VTEC, to improve performance and fuel economy. The lineup:
- A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out more than 280 hp.
- A 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
- A 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine.
"Other companies have downsized turbos to increase fuel economy," said Yuji Matsumochi, chief engineer for Honda's new 2.0-liter turbo powerplant. "Honda had to make an engine that has better fuel economy and more powerful torque."
The 2.0-liter turbo will debut first, in mid-2015, in a European-market Civic given the Type R designation. Matsumochi said Honda is studying U.S. use.
1.5 is the new 1.8
The 1.5-liter is expected to hit the market in 2016, probably early in the year, and is geared toward North America and Asia, Matsumochi said.
Honda is considering use in such vehicles as the Acura ILX and Honda Civic and Accord, but nothing is decided, he said. "It has potential for a wide range of vehicles," he said.
The 1.5-liter engine is seen as a replacement for 1.8-liter powerplants. Compared with a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, Honda said, the 1.5-liter turbocharged unit provided 15 percent better fuel economy and 45 percent better torque.
The 1.0-liter turbo is expected to be the last to market, possibly by the end of 2016, Matsumochi said. It is being considered for the United States, Europe, China and Asia.
One Honda engineer hinted that the company will monitor the success of a three-cylinder engine that Ford Motor Co. plans to sell in the United States, to see whether American consumers will embrace an engine that small.
The 1.0-liter turbo engine yields a 20 percent increase in fuel economy and a 15 percent increase in torque compared with a 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine.
The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission follows a seven-speed dual-clutch unit that Honda unveiled earlier. Compared with a five-speed automatic, the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox offers an increase in fuel efficiency of 8 percent or more and an increase in acceleration performance of 10 percent or more, Honda said.
Honda pairs the eight-speed with a torque converter. That aims to smooth the jerky startup often associated with dual-clutch transmissions.
Although Honda engineers and executives declined to comment on specific models, they said the automaker's transmissions will be used roughly as follows:
- Continuously variable transmissions. CVTs will become Honda's mainstay, used in its small- to mid-sized vehicles, replacing manual and automatic transmissions.
- Dual-clutch transmissions. These will be used with 2.0- to 3.0-liter engines. Some executives said the seven- and eight-speed dual-clutch transmissions may be standard equipment on some vehicles, but will be optional on others.
- Traditional automatic transmissions. These will continue to be used in larger vehicles such as the Odyssey minivan.