We had reported last year that Honda's popular mid-size sedan, the City, is set to get the option of a petrol-hybrid powertrain when it's introduced in India in the future. Now, the Japanese carmaker has revealed that it is developing a new, more compact hybrid system and it is likely that the City for our market could be equipped with that system.
Honda already has a standard size version of the system, called Honda Sport Hybrid i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive), which is suitable for medium to large-sized vehicles. The system currently does duty in the Accord Hybrid, which is also sold here. The new, small-sized version of Honda's hybrid drive will make its global debut on the next-generation Fit (which is also known as the Jazz) that's set to be revealed at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.
The development of the compact hybrid system could find further application within Honda's model range for India, as the carmaker plans to launch more affordable and mass-market hybrids in our market. The Accord hybrid is more of a niche offering in Honda's stable, with a price tag of Rs 43.21 lakh (ex showroom, Delhi). Interestingly, Honda retails the City (known as 'Grace') in the Japanese market with a full-fledged i-MMD system but this could prove expensive for India.
Honda's decision to develop a compact version of its hybrid system further underlines its belief that hybrids are more effective and a practical alternative in the shift to electrification, as opposed to full-electrics. In a recent statement, Honda Global CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, said, "In light of the required infrastructure and how people use automobiles, we believe that hybrid technology is, at this moment, the most effective way for us to comply with CAFE standards. Therefore, we will electrify our products mainly with hybrid technologies."
Hachigo said the carmaker has set itself a target to electrify two-thirds of its global automobile sales by 2030. It also sees the cost of its i-MMD system reducing by 25 percent by 2022, as it plans to expand the scope of its hybrid technology to more models in its global line-up.
As for the new City, the car has been spotted testing in Thailand and it seems to have grown in both, length and width. In terms of styling, it could borrow cues from newer Hondas that look more modern and edgy. In fact, it is also likely to be offered with a diesel-CVT driveline combination, just like the Amaze.