Regardless of what you may think of Honda's current styling direction or the excitement level of its latest models, we have the utmost respect for the automaker's engineering talent. So, when Honda sets itself a goal to achieve "top-of-industry fuel efficiency in every vehicle class within three years", it catches our attention.

Honda's so-called Earth Dreams Technology will encompass everything from gasoline and diesel engines to transmissions (including a CVT that will supposedly be both fun to drive and highly fuel efficient) and, of course, hybrids and fully electric vehicles.

Acura will get knee-deep in the efficiency game as well, as parent company Honda is also promising an hybrid SH-AWD system that will feature two 20kW electric motors that will independently drive their own wheels along with a 30kW electric motor to assist the 3.5-liter V6 engine and seven-speed automatic gearbox.

Of course, Honda will have some stiff competition to that end, as both Hyundai and Ford have made similar overtures over the last few years. That said, all it takes is one look at the comprehensively outlined plan in the press release after the break to realize the seriousness with which Honda is making this pledge.

Show full PR text
Honda Announces Revolutionary Next-generation "Earth Dreams Technology"

-New plan calls for top-of-industry fuel efficiency in every vehicle class within 3 years-

TOKYO, Japan, November 30, 2011 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the outline for a revolutionary next-generation technology for automobiles called "Earth Dreams Technology."

"Earth Dreams Technology" is a next generation set of technological advancements which greatly enhance both driving performance and fuel efficiency at a high level, using as its base advanced environmental technologies to pursue the joy of driving unique to Honda. It is a series of measures in which efficiency of internal combustion components including engine, and transmission, as well as electric-powered motor technology, is further improved.

Through its implementation first in the mini-vehicle N BOX and gradually onto other vehicle models, Honda aims to achieve top-of-industry fuel efficiency for every category within three years, while simultaneously setting a timeline of 2020 to reduce by 30% CO2 emissions for all products sold worldwide, relative to emission figures for 2000.

Inspiration of the "Earth Dreams Technology" name:
"Earth Dreams Technology" is an expression for a set of technologies which takes into account both our need to protect the environment and our desire to provide a joy of driving.

Key features of "Earth Dreams Technology"

1. A gasoline engine which realizes top level driving performance and fuel efficiency.
2. A compact diesel engine which realizes the world's lightest body*1, top-of-class*1 acceleration performance and fuel efficiency.
3. CVT which combines at a high level the fun of driving and fuel efficiency.
4. A two-motor hybrid system which realizes top-of-industry efficiency*1.
5. A high-efficiency, high output electric SH-AWD hybrid system which combines superior driving and environmental performance.
6. A compact, high efficiency electric powertrain for EVs.
Summary of key features

1. Gasoline engine which achieves top-of-industry driving performance and fuel efficiency

By enhancing Honda's original VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control System) technology to thoroughly improve thermal efficiency and minimize friction, a combination of high output and fuel efficiency was achieved. Further, a new engine series employing a new structure for higher expandability was developed.

By gradually renewing the engine starting with the mini-vehicle N BOX, Honda aims to utilize this technology to achieve top-of-industry output and fuel efficiency in every vehicle class within three years.

A wide range of engine classes including the 660cc, 1.3L, 1.5L, 1.8L, 2.0L, 2.4L, and 3.5L classes will feature the technology.

[ 660cc class engine ]
Employs DOHC and VTC (Variable Timing Control) to improve intake efficiency. Further, the compact combustion chamber realizes high thermal efficiency.

By shortening the bore pitch compared to the present engine models and reducing the thickness of the cylinder block and camshaft, engine weight is reduced by 15*3.
[ 1.3 to 1.5L class engine ]

Employs VTC, direct injection technology and the Atkinson cycle using the DOHC, VTEC technologies as the base.

Extensive friction reduction measures are implemented.

[ 1.8 to 2.0L class engine ]
Employs direct injection technology and the Atkinson cycle using the DOHC, VTEC technologies as the base. Further, implementation of VTC and high-capacity EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) to both the intake and exhaust ports realizes significantly reduced friction.

For the 2.0L class hybrid vehicle engines, use of an electric water pump eliminates the need for a belt in the auxiliary device and contributes to a reduction in friction. The VTC system allows fuel-efficient driving in various driving styles.

[ 2.4L class engine ]
Based on the DOHC and VTEC technologies, it employs VTC and direct injection technology and implements extensive friction reduction measures.
Standalone engine features 5*3 improvement in maximum torque compared to the previous engine.

[ 3.5L class engine ]
Employs new valve train mechanisms and direct injection technology in the SOHC, VTEC, VMC systems to improve by over 10*3 of output, relative to the present standalone engine model.

2. A compact diesel engine which realizes the world's lightest body*1, top-of-class*1 acceleration performance and fuel efficiency.

Through optimizing engine rigidity and combustion pressure, an aluminum open deck for the cylinder block was enabled in this top-of-industry lightweight*1 1.6L class diesel engine.

By downsizing from the present 2.2L engine and extensively reducing mechanical friction in each section, a friction level equivalent to present gasoline engine models was achieved.
Optimized thermal management system thanks to improvements in the cooling system reduces CO2 output by over 15%*3.

Employment of a compact, high-efficiency turbocharger and weight reduction in the reciprocating sliding section realizes a sporty and nimble ride.

3. CVT which combines at a high level the fun of driving and fuel efficiency.

Three CVT structures for mini, compact, and mid-size vehicle classes are newly developed to be adopted for a variety of engine models.

Reinforced belt is used to realize a structure for which a wide ratio range can be set.
Implementation of analysis technology over the contact behavior between the belt and pulley, and a high-precision hydraulic control system allows for continual optimization of hydraulic pressure to the pulley under a variety of driving conditions, contributing to improved fuel efficiency.

Use of an electronic oil pump to realize an idle stop system with high response contributes significantly to improved usability and fuel efficiency.

"G-Design Shift", a new coordinated control system for shift transmission, throttle, and hydraulic control responds quickly to driver demands and realizes an exhilarating, sporty drive with superior acceleration.

In the mini-vehicle class, a control mechanism and innovations in axle placement to reduce the engine size lengthwise, while a reduction in parts by simplifying the transmission casing structure helps realize a lightweight and compact body.

For the compact and mid-size classes, in addition to the reductions in size and weight, transmission efficiency was greatly improved by expanding the ratio range to achieve fuel efficiency improvements of 5*3 compared to the conventional CVT and comparable 5ATs, respectively.

4. A two-motor hybrid system which realizes top-of-industry efficiency*1.

A two-motor hybrid system featuring top-of-industry efficiency*1 enhancing driving performance and reduced CO2 emissions has been newly developed.

Special lithium-ion battery and charger is employed to enable mounting on plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Mid-sized vehicles equipped with this system are scheduled to begin production, starting with the plug-in hybrid model in 2012 and the hybrid model in 2013.

Three driving modes allowing for top-of-industry efficiency*1 for various driving environments were developed; an "EV driving mode" for urban environments, a "hybrid driving mode" using electricity generated by the motor, and a "engine-connected driving mode" where the engine and tires are mechanically connected during high-speed cruising.

Combination with a high-output 120kW motor allows for superior environmental performance and driving enjoyment.

5. A high-efficiency, high output electric SH-AWD hybrid system which combines superior driving and environmental performance.

A new hybrid system, electric SH-AWD, was developed for large-sized vehicles. By combining a 3.5L, V6 engine with this hybrid system, acceleration equivalent to V8 engines, as well as fuel efficiency equal or superior to in-line 4-cylinder engines were realized.

An electric 4WD system with independent 20kW+ motors on both sides for the rear wheels combines a 7-speed dual clutch transmission system with a built-in 30kW+ high-efficiency motor with the engine.

By mounting a high-performance lithium-ion battery and optimally controlling the front and rear motors, a new hybrid system with high fuel efficiency and output was realized.

By mounting two independent motors in the rear and employing a newly developed bilateral torque adjustable control system, incredibly tight cornering just like driving "on-the-rail" is realized. With this mechanism, Honda strives to provide a stable ride for various driving environments.

6. A compact, high efficiency electric powertrain for EVs.

Thanks to the high efficiency coaxial motor, low-friction gearbox and electric servo brake system, the system realizes the highest electrical consumption capability in the world*1, meeting the required AC consumption rate of 29kWh/100mile(116MPGe) as set forth by the United States.

A traveling distance of 123 miles*2(LA-4mode: unadjusted) or 210km*2(JC08 mode) was achieved thanks to the mounting of a high capacity lithium-ion battery.
When using the 240V U.S. electric source, a full charge takes less than 3 hours. (From the time a low-charge signal is lit till full charge)

By offering three driving modes (SPORT, NORMAL, ECON), the driver can freely select from a number of options to meet the needs of various driving styles such as power-saving or sporty drive.

*1
Honda internal research (as of November 30, 2011)
*2
Honda calculations
*3
Compared to Honda products


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      skierpage
      • 3 Years Ago
      So: Atkinson engine with a mechanical CVT, a better diesel, Honda's existing IMA with dual rear motors added for SH-AWD, the already-announced Honda Accord two-motor PHEV drivetrain, and a future EV that's slightly more efficient (29 kW·h/100 miles, the i-MiEV is 30). Honda is talking 5 - 10 % improvements, which is fine and realistic, but it doesn't take the (smaller) Civic Hybrid from 44 to the Prius' 50 mpg. Only the PHEV Accord is likely to have "best fuel economy" in its category for the USA. A plug-in hybrid Accord next year is a big deal for turning a plug into a standard feature, depending on how Honda prices and markets it.
      HH
      • 3 Years Ago
      Honda has plug-in hybrids and EVs in the works. Anyone who's been paying attention would know this by now. First drive impressions of the Fit EV came out this week. (Perhaps there'll be one coming from ABG soon?) http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2013-honda-fit-ev-electric-first-drive-review http://www.plugincars.com/first-drive-honda-fit-ev-combines-power-and-practicality-110736.html http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1112_2013_honda_fit_ev_drive/ http://life.nationalpost.com/2011/11/30/preview-2013-honda-fit-evplug-in-hybrid/ But of course, some of us will feign ignorance so we can make our usual pithy, bitchy comments about everything. Carry on then...
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @HH
        Thanks for the links. The Honda Fit EV sounds awesome, and a great drive at the right price. Honda is back!
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @HH
        From the plug-in cars link: '“Wow, this thing scoots,” was the refrain. The Fit EV has a 94-kilowatt electric motor compared to the Nissan LEAF’s 80-kW motor. But that 17.5 percent boost in power only begins to tell the story about how much quicker the Fit EV is than the LEAF. Honda would not divulge the Fit EV’s curb weight, but the Fit’s dimensions, inside and out, are demonstrably smaller than the LEAF’s. The Fit EV is not a ground-up purpose-built electric; it’s a straight adaptation from the gas-powered Fit, but Honda managed to save all but a slight percentage of passenger and cargo space, lifting the seats by about two inches to make room for the battery pack (while giving up the rear seat’s flip-up theater-style function, which allows easier storage of stuff when nobody’s in the back). If you were going to convert any gasoline car to a sporty electric commuter, the Fit—with its clever packaging of decent space in a small lightweight five-seat format—would be my first choice.' And then from Motortrends: 'Priced at $36,625, it's $575 more than a base Leaf, but $1474 less than the quick-charge Leaf it truly closely compares with (exclusive of tax credits). Against Nissan's EV benchmark the range and recharge time appear potentially more appealing, as does the interior package efficiency. '
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      So basically, they're gonna try to get back to what they were doing in the 80's and 90's? This is going to take a Ford-style revamping of every single engine in the lineup. If that's what they have up their sleeve, i'd love to buy a new Honda. But i doubt it.
      Peter
      • 3 Years Ago
      EVERYONE is, or should be, planning to design "top-of-industry fuel efficiency in every vehicle class within three years".
      James Peter
      • 3 Years Ago
      Honda is being completely delusional. They cannot have best-in-all-segments fuel economy AND keep their stinky Ridgeline AND make the Crosstour successful. http://www.ca-lemon-law.com/
      EV Now
      • 3 Years Ago
      Plans on paper are all fine - how much is Honda investing ? That's what defines commitment & seriousness.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      try beating the electric cars Honda.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        @2 wheel I know! Wtf happened to Honda, they used to be so cool. Ford is talking up another round of new engines. Ford! The people who kept the crown Vic on the road since 1979, and after there all new engines during the crash, they are talking another new set. Ford! Up is down, black is white, and people say goodbye when they first see each other... The trippy thing is, honda used to be engineering par excellence. And fun. Now the cars are may e a bit more interesting than Toyota, and old engines. Great point - reminds me of the thread on VW and their stuff...
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        ..and update your decade and a half old powertrains..
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      A few years ago automakers were compating for horsepower, now they're competing for efficiency. It's a giant step in the right direction. I'm happy we FINALLY got there, and yes, it's thanks to pioneers such as Toyota and Honda.
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds like a big ball of fail. V6? Automatic transmission? Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In three years the most efficient vehicle in every class will have a plug.
        skierpage
        • 3 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Just about every automaker bar Tesla makes a wide range of powertrains. Even Toyota with its increasing commitment to HSD, still makes V6s and diesels and ATs. At least Honda is committing to what might be a decent PHEV for the mainstream sedan class, and a competitive EV. I don't see anything like this from, say, Chryser-Fiat. Category ≠ class; look at Ford trumpeting the Fusion hybrid with "best sedan fuel efficiency", though it's a midsize like a Prius. Already the EPA's http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/best-worst.shtml has separate tabs for "Cars" and "Cars (excluding EVs)". Even among plug-in cars, the ten (!) EPA numbers for a PHEV will let many automakers claim "best fuel economy[**]" ([**] Highway efficiency in extended range mode on E85 fuel with California states engine package, $4500 BluGreen package, and 14-inch tyres.)
        Smith Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        I support EVs but I frquently drive long distances and I live in a region with cold winters. Furthermore, I can't afford any of the so-called affordable EVs because I am not eligible for the EV tax credit. Toyota is working toward hybrids with ICE efficiency of 45%. One Toyota spokesperson claimed that such efficiency in a hybrid would have lifecycles CO2 emissions comparable to EVs.
          Smith Jim
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Smith Jim
          PaulW, When I studied thermodynamics in college I remember theoretical maximum thermal efficiency of internal and external combustion engines being above 70%. Of course the theoretical maximum can never be reached but there are some innovative designs such as split-cycle engines that may exceed 50% brake thermal efficiency. Check out the following two articles from greencarcongress.com http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/04/nakata-20110411.html http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/10/tour-20111012.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_efficiency
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Smith Jim
          If there is a hard limit of 37% it is one neither Toyota nor its engines are aware of, as they have already done better than that: 'Concept 1 is a cooled EGR stoichiometric spark-ignited direct-injection concept, featuring a long stroke design (stroke/bore=1.5) and cooled EGR with an EGR ratio of more than 30%. The long-stroke design (lengthening the stroke while maintaining displacement), reduces heat loss and also increases piston speed, creating more turbulence. A high tumble ratio intake port (TTR=3.0) and a high-energy ignition system (100 mJ) also contribute to improved combustion. Toyota is continuing to reduce friction. Concept 2 is a turbocharged lean burn concept, built on the base of concept 1. It also uses the long stroke design, with a high tumble ratio and a higher-energy ignition system (150 mJ). The high tumble ratio intake port extends the lean limit from 19 to 23, Nakata said. In addition, the lean limit is also increased by using a spherical face on the piston. Furthermore, the high discharge current in the ignition system also gives a higher lean limit. Nakata said that the engine team has currently delivered a 42.4% thermal efficiency in concept 1 and 43.7% thermal efficiency in concept 2. Work is ongoing, focused on increasing the expansion ration and decreasing pumping loses. Toyota is also considering a variable super high expansion ratio cycle for further improvements. Nakata suggested that such an engine applied in a hybrid would result in total lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions comparable to that of an electric vehicle. ' http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/04/nakata-20110411.html
          paulwesterberg
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Smith Jim
          Steel engines have a thermodynamic limit of 37%. Regenerative braking and start/stop hybrid systems help to make the most of what little motive power an ICE does produce. On the other hand, batteries and electric motors are 90% efficient so either the spokesperson you talked to is bad at math or they sell cars for a living. Rollins Band has a song about car dealers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaysTVcounI
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Smith Jim
          "Steel engines have a thermodynamic limit of 37%." Maybe for most practical cars, but not absolutely. Wikipedia: Low-speed Diesel engines (as used in ships and other applications where overall engine weight is relatively unimportant) often have a thermal efficiency which exceeds 50 percent.
      samagon0
      • 3 Years Ago
      it's about time they stop being irrelevant.
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