July 30, 08
New 2009 Honda Hybrid Drive System to Cut Costs by 50%

Honda Motor Co Ltd announced that the development of its hybrid-only model slated for release in early 2009 is progressing smoothly and the cost for its hybrid-related system is likely to be about 50% lower than that of the Civic Hybrid.

Honda's Executive Vice President Koichi Kondo made this announcement at the company's financial results meeting July 25, 2008. The keys to the lower cost are the reduction in the system's size and weight and its simplified structure, he said.

Honda announced it will employ the "IMA" (Integrated Motor Assist) hybrid system, which is already adopted in the existing models, for the hybrid-only model. The company is, however, likely to sharply reduce the cost of the IMA being developed for the hybrid-only model by reviewing its concept and seeking a smaller, lighter and simpler system structure, he said.

"The system's cost itself, excluding the (subsidiary) effects of standardizing components, for example, differs (from the cost of other systems seen in the Civic Hybrid, etc)," Kondo said.

The hybrid-only model will be a five-passenger car with five doors suited for family use, with the size somewhere between Honda's "Fit" and "Civic" (its exterior design adopts the concept of Honda "FCX Clarity" fuel cell vehicle). The market price is expected to be less than US$18,580.

Honda has been striving to cut costs for hybrid systems, aiming at the goal of "building up a framework where hybrids can establish a healthy business."

The Civic Hybrid hasn’t been the runaway success that Honda might have hoped, in part because it doesn’t have the instant recognisability of being a ‘green’ vehicle that the Toyota Prius has.

The car’s price premium over the standard Civic sedan also makes it an unreasonable economic choice for many buyers, as the period for recovering the added expense in saved fuel is so long.