TOKYO: The re-engineered 2017 Accord Hybrid delivers what Honda calls class-leading fuel economy thanks to a tweaked two-motor hybrid system that improves power and efficiency.
The updated sedan, which goes on sale this spring in the U.S. and Japan, gets a version of a new gasoline-electric drivetrain that debuted in February in the Japan-market Odyssey minivan.
The U.S. Accord Hybrid achieves EPA fuel economy ratings of 49 mpg city/47 highway/48 combined. Honda says that makes it the most fuel efficient midsize hybrid sedan on the road.
The ratings are calculated under new, more stringent requirements demanded from the 2017 model year. The ratings represent a +1 mpg city/+2 highway/+1 combined increase over the 2015 Accord Hybrid, if that car’s ratings were calculated under the same method.
Banking on better mpg, Honda expects North America to be the top market for the renewed Accord Hybrid, Chief Engineer Koji Ninomiya said at a May 11 briefing. Honda expects U.S. annual sales to double their previous high of 14,000 vehicles in 2014. In Japan, by contrast, Honda expects to sell 1,800 a year.
By cutting the size and weight of key components such as the battery and power control unit, Honda engineers upgraded the two-motor hybrid system previously used in the Accord Hybrid. Honda dubs the system the Sport Hybrid i-MMD powertrain.
The new hybrid system’s power control unit and electric motors are 23 percent smaller than those in the outgoing Accord Hybrid, Ninomiya said. But the motors deliver more torque and horsepower. The power control unit is also 27 percent lighter.
The intelligent power unit, which includes the lithium ion battery, is 33 percent smaller and 13 percent lighter.
The battery is supplied by Blue Energy Japan Co., a battery-making joint venture established in 2009 between Honda and Japanese battery company GS Yuasa Corp.
Honda consolidated production of the Accord Hybrid at its Sayama plant north of Tokyo for the current version, Ninomiya said. The carmaker also had been making the Accord Hybrid in the U.S., but Honda ended output there last summer as part of an effort to boost factory utilization rates in Japan.