Honda Unveils World's Highest Mileage Hybrid Vehicle

3/27/1999 6:22:00 AM

Honda recently introduced the first gas/electric hybrid vehicle to go on sale in the U.S. When made available at Honda dealerships later this year, it will become the world's most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered automobile. A prototype of the vehicle was unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show and drew positive comments from media and consumers.

The Honda hybrid will achieve more than 70 mpg in combined city/highway driving. In addition, the vehicle will meet California Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) standards, making it one of the most environmentally responsible vehicles on the road.

Currently codenamed "V V," the Honda hybrid's powertrain incorporates a 3-cylinder lean-burn VTEC engine in combination with an electric motor/generator to boost both the performance and efficiency of the gasoline engine.

The engine/motor unit is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. A sophisticated electronics package handles the automated charging, engine assist and power for accessories.

"With ultra-low emissions and ultra-high fuel economy, the Honda V V establishes a new high-water mark for environmental sensitivity in a gasoline-powered vehicle," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "This vehicle is a major engineering achievement for Honda, incorporating a wide range of technologies developed over the past two decades of Honda research and development into cleaner automobiles."

A two-seat aerodynamic coupe, the V V has an aluminum frame, suspension components and body panels. Some plastic body panels are also used.

The Honda hybrid will carry world-class safety features and a full complement of comfort and convenience items, including automatic climate control, anti-lock brakes, electric power steering, dual air bags, AM/FM stereo cassette, digital instrument panel and Honda's Immobilizer theft deterrent system.

The still-to-be-named hybrid will arrive in dealer showrooms later this year. Pricing is expected to be less than $20,000 for the hybrid.

Executive Vice President Tom Elliott displays the new Honda gas/electric hybrid at Detroit's North American International Auto Show, where the vehicle made its debut. It will be the world's most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicle, with a combined city/highway EPA mileage figure of more than 70 mpg.