Environmental Technology Issue Brief
Based on its commitment to innovation and the development of original technology, Honda is working to help address society's environmental and energy concerns – including global climate change, air pollution and energy sustainability – through a comprehensive, portfolio approach that involves both advanced powertrain and energy creation technologies for the near and longer term. This includes further improvements to gasoline engine fuel efficiency, including the expanded deployment of affordable gas-electric hybrid vehicles; the development of viable alternatives to gasoline, including natural gas, battery electric vehicles and the hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle; and advanced energy production and distribution technologies, including solar cells, co-generation systems, and both electric recharging and hydrogen refueling stations.
Improving Fuel Efficiency
Honda has been a consistent leader in fuel-efficiency, introducing new technologies and topping the U.S. EPA's automobile fuel-economy rankings for 24 of the past 33 years..
Honda is committed to further advancements in internal combustion engine fuel efficiency, with a focus on the broad application of technologies such as VTEC™ and Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM™); and the expanded application of Honda hybrid technology.
Second-generation Variable Cylinder Management™ (VCM™) technology – with three-, four- and six-cylinder operation – is being used in the Accord V6 Sedan and Coupe, Accord Crosstour, Pilot SUV and all-new Odyssey minivan.
The most affordable hybrid available on the road today, the five-passenger Honda Insight, utilizes an interactive Ecological Drive Assist System to help enhance customers' fuel-efficient driving capabilities.
The new CR-Z sporty hybrid coupe, also using Eco Assist, expands Honda's lineup of hybrid vehicles, offering consumers a driver-focused vehicle with an emphasis on efficient performance and affordability.
The third generation Civic Hybrid, being introduced in the spring of 2011, will be the first Honda hybrid to utilize lithium-ion batteries, developed and produced by Blue Energy Co., Ltd., a join venture effort by Honda and GS Yuasa.
Further, the company is making extensive use of advanced materials such as aluminum and high-strength steel that improve fuel economy while allowing engineers to meet other critical targets such as vehicle safety.
All new Honda and Acura vehicles have body structures using substantial amounts of high-strength steel, as much or more than 50% of the vehicle's body structure by weight.
Honda has also been at the lead of developing new electromotive technologies for more than a decade, and continues to advance its electric drivetrain technologies across multiple platforms, including its fuel cell electric and gas-electric hybrid vehicles, and its soon-to-be-deployed battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
- The company is preparing for the launch of new battery electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid vehicle technology, which together with the FCX Clarity are part of Honda's Electric Mobility Network, a comprehensive vision for reducing CO2emissions.
- The Honda Fit EV electric commuter vehicle will be introduced in the U.S. in 2012. Its market launch will be preceded by the Honda Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program involving Stanford University, Google, Inc., and the City of Torrance, California, beginning in 2011. Honda was first to market with an electric vehicle using advanced nickel metal hydride batteries in 1996, with its Honda EV Plus.
- A new plug-in hybrid model utilizing Honda's new dual-motor hybrid system for mid- to larger-sized vehicles will be introduced in 2012. A test vehicle will be deployed with the City of Torrance in 2011.
Honda has paced the industry in the development and deployment of the fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) as well as the refueling infrastructure that will be required to take it to the mass market.
Honda has been leasing its fuel-cell electric vehicles to fleet and retail customers in California since 2002 in the world's first large-scale retail initiative for FCEVs.
Honda introduced the world's first production FCEV and first to be certified for commercial use by the U.S. EPA and CARB – the Honda FCX – in October 2002.
The Honda FCX Clarity, the successor to the FCX, is the world's first purpose-built FCEV and the first to be manufactured on a dedicated production line.
Honda R&D is advancing technology for the use of renewable energy in the production of hydrogen (see Solar Cell).
Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles
Honda has sought to establish a pathway from gasoline to gaseous fuel alternatives with its natural gas-powered Civic GX, the only natural gas-powered passenger car for retail sale from a major automaker in North America.
- The Civic GX reduces tank-to-wheel CO emissions by 25 percent (versus a comparable gasoline-powered compact car) and is certified as an Inherently Low Emissions Vehicle (ILEV) by the U.S. EPA.
- Over the past two years, Honda has expanded its U.S. retail sales network for the Civic GX to Honda dealers in Utah and Oklahoma, joining dealers in California and New York in offering customers a practical and low-emissions alternative to gasoline for their daily commute.
- Honda will expand retail sales of the Civic GX to all states with the introduction of the ninth-generation Civic lineup, including an all-new Civic GX, in spring 2011.
In California, the Civic GX and FCX Clarity were recently given extended, single-occupant access to HOV lanes, continuing through January 2015.
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Advanced Cleaner Energy Research
Honda's efforts have gone beyond developing new vehicle technologies. Honda has focused its research and development resources on the creation of new sources of cleaner power to provide the energy required for future mobility.
- Solar Cell – Honda-developed photovoltaic solar cells significantly reduce the energy and CO2 emissions in the manufacturing phase1. Honda subsidiary Soltec, Ltd. began mass production of Honda solar cells at its new Kumamoto factory in October 2008. Honda is utilizing the cells in an array at Honda R&D Americas Los Angeles headquarters, where solar energy is used to extract hydrogen from water for refueling the FCX Clarity in a virtually carbon-free energy cycle.
- FFVs – Honda has developed a flexible-fuel system that enables engines to operate on either 100 percent ethanol or a wide range of ethanol-gasoline fuel mixtures. In late 2006, Honda began sales of a flex-fuel Fit and Civic sedan in Brazil, where the energy-efficient production of bio-ethanol from plant cellulose such as sugar cane has gained in popularity.
- Bio-fuel – To address the need for more efficient means of producing bio-ethanol in other regions of the world, Honda R&D and the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) are researching new technology to produce ethanol from soft-biomass, a renewable resource of plant-derived material. The company has set up an experimental production facility at its Wako, Japan R&D campus to further study the market potential of this technology.
- MCHP – Honda in partnership with Climate Energy, LLC, is marketing a micro-combined heat and power cogeneration (MCHP) appliance called freewatt™ to residential customer in the Northeastern U.S. The freewatt system generates electricity and heat for the home with an approximate 30-percent reduction in energy use and associated CO2emissions.
- Honda has led all automakers in the introduction of vehicles that meet or exceed increasingly stringent exhaust emissions regulations.
- First gasoline-powered LEV, ULEV, SULEV, and AT-PZEV vehicles introduced to U.S. consumers.
- For model year 2010, all Honda and Acura vehicles meet or exceed U.S. EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standards on an individual model basis, without the use of fleet averaging.
Honda has been a leader in the application of overhead valve (OHV) 4-stroke engines to its powersports and power equipment product lines. All model year 2008 and newer Honda motorcycles, including competition models, and all Honda power equipment lines use OHV 4-stroke engine technology.
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