Design News - Honda Rolls Out 50-MPG Hybrid
The auto industry took another small step up in its long climb to a 54.5 mile-per-gallon average this week, as Honda Motor Co. officially rolled out a 50-mpg hybrid version of one of the country's best-selling cars.
The long-awaited 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid will use a gasoline-electric powertrain to reach an EPA rating of 50 mpg city, 45 highway, and 47 combined. That puts it ahead of competing midsize hybrids, such as the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, and Hyundai Sonata, but still behind the Toyota Prius, which gets 51 mpg in the city.
Honda reached the 50-mpg milestone with a clever combination of all-electric, hybrid, and engine-only driving modes.
All-electric. In this mode, the Accord's 124-kW electric traction motor turns the wheels, drawing power from a 1.3-kWh lithium-ion battery for the first few miles.
Hybrid. When the battery is quickly depleted, the Accord kicks into series hybrid mode, using its gasoline engine to power a generator, which feeds current to the electric motor to drive the wheels.
Engine-only. At approximately 40 mph, the unique aspect of the powertrain shows itself. Then, the electric motor is decoupled, and a clutch engages the crankshaft of the two-liter gasoline engine. In this "direct-drive" mode, the car uses only its engine for power.
"The manufacturers are starting to make their bets," Koslowski said. "And the hybrid is certainly a much safer bet for mainstream automakers than a fully electric vehicle."