Thursday, January 17, 2008

Honda: Diesel then Hydrogen


There has always been one engine that I have always wanted to own a car thereby propelled.

Now there are two.

Number One: Any car powered by a Honda V8 engine. Thus far, none exists. The outlook? Bleak. Honda should have produced a rear or all-wheel-drive Acura 4.6 TL...with a 300HP V8....while they had a chance.

I have owned GM V8's, Lexus (Toyota) V8's, Ford V8's and most recently a Chrysler 5.7 Liter Hemi V8. American V8's are relatively crude in comparison to their German and Japanese counterparts, but they stir the senses. Japanese V8's might as well be a big blender. Too quiet; no soul. But you know Honda's would have been different. Too late for that now.

There is only one thing that impresses me more than the aural rush and g-forces of overwhelming horsepower and that is ingenius engineering.

It’s difficult to ignore. Honda is arguably the best engine company in the world. I can still recall how silky smooth that CVCC engine was in my brother’s 1977 Civic. That’s 30 years ago, and that engine could be sold today and be competitive.

What other car company better exhibits the qualities of ingenius engineering, design, driver-centricity and value than Honda?

BMW comes close, save the value quotient. A $50K 3-Series with a cheap interior, unnavigable navigation system and precarious cupholders? No thanks.

Honda started as an engine manufacturer. Then came motorcycles. Then automobiles. In the late 80's and well into the 90's, Honda's Accord was so hot that dealerships resorted to bribes and racketeering to get more inventory. Don't believe it? Read this.

Number Two: Any car powered by a Honda Diesel engine. Thus far, none exists. The outlook? Improving. You know it'll be good. Smooth, efficient, torquey and fun. And it will probably get twice the highway miles per gallon and the same torque of a V8 twice it's size.

The world has been whipped into an Algore-induced froth over "Global Warming" er I mean "Global Climate Change." This coupled with the political reality that our dependence on foreign sources of energy threatens our country's security, the global automotive industry needs to pursue long-term solutions to our personal transportation needs.

But Hybrids, E85/Flex Fuel, and electric cars do nothing more than transfer the problem up or downstream.

In the interim, carmakers and legislators have to face the reality that many of the best long-term solutions have a long way to go before they are economically feasible, desirable and affordable for the mainstream.

Diesels are an option yet to be maximized, especially in America. Honda is ready to make diesels their interim option while their long-term technologies, hydrogen and fuel cells germinate.

Honda Stays Out of Plug-Ins. But Opts in For Diesels.

But with General Motors and Toyota vying to beat one another to market with hybrid electric plug-in vehicles, it is difficult to ignore the fact that Honda CEO Takeo Fukui says he’s just not interested. Instead, says Fukui this week at the North American International Auto Show, the company is pushing ahead on fuel-cell electric vehicles, which he believes Honda will be able to offer consumers on some affordable basis in ten years.

Fukui also said that Honda will introduce a clean diesel to its Acura line in 2010. It’s about time. With Honda getting into the diesel business, as well as Toyota, maybe diesel doubters will come to embrace clean diesel as a significant improvement over regular gas engines for big cars, SUVs and trucks.

Detroit 2008: Honda gives us a peek at the i-DTEC clean diesel

1 comment:

Bike Bubba said...

Actually, one of the reasons we so love Honda engines might be their reluctance to go into new areas, but to tweak the heck out of what they've got. Dance with the girl that brought you, you know?

Contrast that with Toyota's decade-long spree of new engines that has pushed them out of Consumer Reports' "automatically recommended" status, and a slew of disasters on the part of GM dating back three decades.

I also hope that both GM and Honda come out with some cool new engines; just not at the cost of the reliable ones we've got today.