Honda has revealed that it’s planning to install its two-motor hybrid system in the upcoming fourth-generation version of its Fit small hatchback, which will be first shown at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show later this month.
Also called i-MMD, the hybrid system combines two electric motors with an Atkinson-cycle engine. In the Honda Accord Hybrid and upcoming 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid, that’s a 2.0-liter inline-4, but in the Honda Insight it’s a 1.5-liter inline-4. Specifications for the Fit Hybrid won’t likely be revealed before the show, but some sources have suggested that a 1.0-liter turbo-3 will be used for some of the lineup—with a 1.5-liter inline-4 more likely for the Fit Hybrid.
Honda itself only confirms in a pre-show release that the Fit Hybrid's two-motor system will be "made even more compact than the previous system"—which could either be referring to the downsized component set in the Insight, or a smaller set yet.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid motor system
The two-hybrid system is different than most others in that it’s a series hybrid most of the time but sometimes operates as a parallel hybrid. There’s no conventional transmission or torque-split device. One of the motors is geared directly to the engine while the other is geared to the front wheels—and on the other side of a clutch.
In light-load cruising conditions, the gas engine is locked into the mix, with a tall drive ratio, but if more power is needed it disconnects, letting the engine otherwise play the role of onboard generator.
The system itself saves weight versus other hybrid systems—an important quality as hybrids take on weight in the form of battery packs and power electronics. And it’s been well-received so far in the Accord Hybrid.
The outgoing Fit Hybrid, offered overseas, was offered with a single-motor hybrid system incorporating a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox—called i-DCD—in a layout that’s not unlike that in the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid and Kia Niro Hybrid.
Honda Fit Hybrid (Japanese domestic model), Honda Proving Grounds, Tochigi, Japan, Nov 2013
The arrival of the two-motor system to the Fit isn’t at all a surprise. Last year at the Geneva auto show, Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo announced that Honda will expand the use of the system across its entire lineup.
The ramp-up of the technology is part of Honda’s goal to make hybrids 60 percent of the automaker’s global sales by 2030.
Honda’s transition to hybrids and plug-in vehicles like the upcoming Honda E is particularly important in Europe as diesel sunsets in small cars. The Fit, or Jazz, as it's badged in some markets, might be only sold as a hybrid in Europe.
2020 Honda E
There’s a big asterisk to all of this: None of it has been confirmed yet for the U.S. The rival to the Fit Hybrid, the Toyota Prius C, has been discontinued, with no immediate successor, and in recent years that model’s sales were tepid at best.
Honda in the U.S. declined to comment to Green Car Reports on future product.