|Honda Line-up at The Geneva Salon 2006 Tackles Future Challenges Through Innovation and Diversity|
|GENEVA, Switzerland, February 28, 2006 - At this year's Geneva Auto Salon Honda is displaying a range of vehicles that perfectly encapsulate the company's bold approach to the challenges confronting today's vehicle designers.
It's a line up that includes the world-unveiling of the Civic Type R Concept with its promise of fun and exhilarating performance. The quickening progress towards a hydrogen-fuelled future is amply demonstrated by the FCX Concept, a futuristic, stylish, but highly practical fuel cell car that points the way to a potential production model in three to four years' time. Then there's the debut of the European-specification Legend which bristles with innovative technology and raises the bar in terms of all-round safety features. And just to illustrate the company's breadth of expertise and now extensive motorsport heritage is a trio of Formula One machines, from both past and present.
Civic Type R Concept: dynamic styling, exciting performance
With a level of success way beyond Honda's initial expectations, the Civic Type R which ended production last year proved a smash hit among those seeking the thrills of a sporty, high performance car, yet still delivering a strong dose of practicality, and all at an affordable price.
The bold styling and 200 PS DOHC i-VTEC engine of the Civic Type R Concept provides a clear indication of how the final production car will appear; driving enthusiasts are unlikely to be disappointed.
The European Legend: effortless performance and innovative technology
Honda's flagship saloon becomes available during the summer across Europe and offers a powerful combination of luxury and effortless driving performance.
The 295 PS 3.5 litre VTEC engined Legend is equipped as standard with an array of advanced technology designed to enhance relaxation, safety and the overall driving experience.
Those qualities are epitomised by Honda's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. Its unique ability to proportion torque both front to rear and between left and right rear wheels, allows it to overdrive the outer rear wheel during cornering to enhance handling and stability. Driving enjoyment and safe progression are the result.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg of an extensive specification which includes a pop-up bonnet for pedestrian protection and the option of Adaptive Cruise Control and Honda's Collision Mitigation Brake System.
Simulators demonstrate driving aids and safety technology
The stand will feature two Advanced Technology Simulators: which allow visitors to experience for themselves some of the new technologies fitted in the new Legend, including the SH-AWD system, Intelligent Night Vision System and E-Pretensioners (see separate Legend chapter).
The FCX Concept: a fuel cell car blending style and practicality
Another pointer to the direction of Honda's passenger car development is provided by the FCX Concept car. This is more than a technology test bed and the advanced fuel cell technology is clothed in a stylish, dynamic bodyshell that offers outstanding space and in-cabin comfort. Driving convenience is enhanced by features such as a Biometrics Driving Unit that recognises the driver and so unlocks the doors and sets pre-programmed driving positions as well as a system that senses the driver's line of sight and operates switches accordingly, allowing the driver hands-free operation of various systems.
Above all, however, the FCX Concept demonstrates the advanced state of development of Honda's fuel cell technology which is now capable of ultra-low-temperature start-up performance within a very compact package that makes a low floor platform possible. The new FCX Concept can have a cruising range of 560km (350 miles).
Home Energy Station: Fill up the car at home
One of the potential limitations to the extensive take up of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source in the near future could be the lack of an adequate refuelling infrastructure. In a clear demonstration of lateral thinking, Honda has therefore been pursuing the possibility of a system that would allow the owner of a fuel cell car to fill up at home. Utilising a natural gas supply, the Home Energy Station does just that, delivering a supply of hydrogen reformed from natural gas. In addition, the Home Energy Station is all the more useful for its ability to provide heat and power for the home. The system can be viewed on the Honda stand alongside the FCX Concept.
F1 machines past and present celebrate Honda's return as a full-factory team
To mark Honda's return to the F1 circuit this season as a 100 per cent Honda racing team, the company's booth will feature three all-Honda machines: a 2006-liveried machine flanked by two machines that hail from a previous era of full-factory team participation – the 1964 RA271 and the 1965 RA272 resplendent in their original Honda Racing White livery.
THE CIVIC TYPE R CONCEPT
The practical nature of the current Civic Type R made it a car you could live with in everyday driving, yet one that just as equally delivers instant performance, plus fun handling, on demand. That dual personality thrilled over 35,000 customers, far exceeding initial sales forecasts during its relatively short production run.
Last year Honda announced it is to build a successor, and while the previous model is a tough act to follow, the credentials of the Civic Type R Concept which makes its world debut at Geneva, suggests that the new car will attract a whole new wave of enthusiasts.
Bold and emotional styling is teamed up with a development of the previous Type R's race-proven, high-revving pedigree DOHC i-VTEC engine. 200 PS delivered from a capacity of 2.0 litres without resorting to a turbocharger defined the character of the old model and will equally define the character of its spiritual successor. The promise then is of a performance hatchback that will be as exciting to drive as it will be to look at when it goes on sale at the beginning of 2007.
A new 3-door version of the Civic, which shares DNA with this Type R Concept model, will go on sale in Europe later this year. It makes use of many of the styling themes that have brought such wide praise for the recently introduced Civic 5-door.
Civic Type R and the rest of the Civic 3-door range, will be exclusively built alongside the Civic 5-door range at the Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) plant in Swindon.
THE EUROPEAN HONDA LEGEND
Honda's new Legend, a luxury four-door premium saloon, offers high performance and an array of advanced technology to deliver an extremely enjoyable and safe driving experience.
Among its innovative, advanced technology highlights are the unique Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system which provides excellent agility, a pop-up bonnet for pedestrian protection, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) which maintains a safe distance from a vehicle in front, and the Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS) which predicts potential collision situations and reacts accordingly. In addition, right-hand-drive models also have the option of Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS).
The use of a number of aluminium body panels including the sub frames, bonnet, boot lid and front wings, helps to keep down overall weight.
Its 3.5 litre, V6, 24-valve, all-aluminium SOHC VTEC engine produces 295 PS at 6,200 rpm and 353 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm to deliver effortless performance as well as being light and compact. It is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The Legend's sleek styling reflects that abundant power. The dramatically sloping bonnet leads down to an aggressive nose with angular headlamp treatment, five-sided Honda grille and distinctive lower air intake openings. A sleek cockpit, a forward sloping beltline and a short deck lid accentuate the Legend's pronounced wedge shape. Inside, Honda's flagship saloon is as luxurious as it is sporty, and features rich leather and wood trim.
A standard premium 10-speaker Bose audio system uses Bose Cabin Surround sound. This innovative system utilises eight channels to deliver sound resolution 500 times greater than CD. And, in a further innovation, the Legend is equipped with AudioPilot active noise cancellation, which neutralises road, wind and other intrusive noises by sending out an opposite phase signal through the audio system.
Satellite navigation features RDS-TMS which displays up-to-the-minute traffic information where available on screen and plots alternative routes around traffic congestion. Further convenience is provided by voice recognition control (English, German and Italian – French and Spanish will be added in the near future). Voice commands may also be used to control audio and climate control functions. Parking is made all the easier by a rear view camera whose image is displayed on the 8 inch display.
A Bluetooth wireless mobile phone interface permits further hands-free operation, with steering wheel mounted buttons to control its operation.
The Legend comes as standard with the Active Front lighting System (AFS) for increased illumination and visibility. When cornering, the inboard light swivels by up to 20 degrees according to input form steering and vehicle speed sensors to illuminate a larger area of road surface throughout the corner, thus minimising blind spots.
Super Handling All-Wheel Drive
Safety has been a key consideration in the development of Legend, and the provision of both active and passive safety systems make this one of the most comprehensively equipped cars on the market. The standard-fit Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) exemplifies Honda's approach. Working in conjunction with the Vehicle Stability Assist system, SH-AWD is a groundbreaking all-wheel drive system that delivers exceptional handling thanks to a unique layout. It's the only all-wheel drive platform that distributes the optimum amount of torque not only between the front and rear wheels, but also between each rear wheel.
During straight line cruising and moderate cornering, up to 70 per cent of torque is delivered to the front wheels. During full throttle acceleration or spirited driving, up to 70 per cent of available torque is directed to the rear wheels for increased acceleration and enhanced cornering.
When accelerating during cornering, SH-AWD overdrives the outer rear wheel by up to 5 per cent using an exclusive acceleration device, while electromagnetic clutches in the rear axle send up to 100 per cent of rear torque to that wheel. If the car is decelerating during cornering, the torque balance is controlled to counteract oversteer. The result is dramatically enhanced steering feel, stability and class-leading cornering performance.
The Legend's lightweight chassis and double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension systems are tuned to complement the SH-AWD system and deliver a linear cornering feel and a smooth ride. Large ventilated disc brakes and four-piston front callipers, ABS, EBD and Brake Assist provide optimum stopping power.
Advanced Driving Assist Systems – Adaptive Cruise Control
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) can be specified as an option. As well as providing a conventional cruise control function, ACC uses a grille-mounted radar to adjust speed automatically by applying either brake or throttle to maintain a consistent distance to a vehicle directly in front.
Advanced Driving Assist Systems – Collision Mitigation Brake System
ACC is logically supplemented with the Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS) which predicts potential collision situations and reacts accordingly.
If CMBS determines that the closing rate between the Legend and the vehicle directly in front has increased beyond an acceptable level, visual and audible warnings prompt the driver to take preventive action. If the distance further diminishes, the system provides a tactile warning by gently retracting the seatbelt and applies light braking. If an accident seems to be unavoidable, the system applies strong braking and strong retraction of the front seatbelts via E-Pretensioners to reduce the speed of impact and to mitigate the damage of a collision.
Advanced Driving Assist Systems – Lane Keeping Assist System
In addition, right-hand drive models can also be specified with the Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), already seen on the 2006 Honda Accord. This uses a camera mounted behind the top of the windscreen to identify the lane in which the vehicle is travelling and to correct any deviation via an appropriate input to the steering.
To complement the high performance drivetrain, the Legend has a highly rigid body structure which utilises Honda's Advanced Compatability Engineering (ACE) principles. The ACE structure helps to disperse collision forces over a larger frontal area for greater protection for vehicle occupants while at the same time increasing compatibility with other vehicles in a frontal collision.
A number of pedestrian protection measures have been adopted in line with other Honda models, but unique to the Legend and one of the first such systems on the market is a pop-up bonnet. Activation in the event of an accident is by a pyrotechnic device; occurring in milliseconds, its effect is to help cushion the pedestrian's body.
Dual stage front airbags, side and curtain airbags complete the standard safety package.
AN INDICATION OF A HYDROGEN-FUELLED FUTURE: THE HONDA FCX CONCEPT AND THE HOME ENERGY STATION
In a world first, Honda last year delivered one of its FCX fuel cell cars to a private individual in the US. Now a glimpse of how a Honda production fuel cell vehicle might appear in three to four years' time is provided by the FCX Concept, which boasts a fuel cell system that delivers more power in less space, in a unique, low-floor platform.
The sleek, premium four-door sedan's low centre of gravity and full-sized cabin offer the kind of driving pleasure and roomy interior previously unimaginable in a fuel cell vehicle. The FCX Concept also features a wide range of technology both for extremely efficient performance and to enhance the driving experience.
Fuel cell vehicles must accommodate a wide array of equipment: as well as the fuel cell stack, there is the motor and hydrogen tank which have traditionally been accommodated by raising the height of the floor. The packaging efficiency of Honda's new compact V Flow fuel cell platform means that it has been possible to create the lowest floor in a fuel cell car so far.
At its heart is the V Flow fuel cell stack in which the cells are arranged vertically. This is compact enough to fit neatly into the centre tunnel but capable of producing 100 kW of power and offering good performance even in sub-zero temperatures – previously an obstacle in the commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles. The key to good fuel cell performance is water management, and Honda's latest stack uses an innovative vertical gas flow, whereby oxygen and hydrogen flow downwards, with the water that is formed efficiently discharged under the action of gravity. The design achieves ultra-low-temperature start-up performance on a par with that of a petrol engine.
The drivetrain features three energy-efficient motors to deliver all-wheel drive. The 80 kW front-drive motor is coaxial with the gearbox which allows for a short and compact front end. Each of the rear wheels contains a thin, eccentric 25 kW motor which contribute to the space efficiency of the low-floor design.
Sleek outside, futuristic and inviting inside
The sleek styling with its tapered cabin profile and flared wheel arches creates an attractively dynamic look. The short nose and low floor permit a comfortably large cabin with luxurious seating. Contrasting materials, from futuristic transparent plastics to classic leather and wood, and premium reclining shell-like seats and foot rests in the rear combine to produce a warm, welcoming interior with an advanced feel. That effect is enhanced by intriguing elements like an instrument panel that appears to float, and an interactive floor that uses lighting to indicate changes in cabin temperature.
Premium, intelligent technologies
The instrument panel in front of the passenger seat tilts up and down through 45 degrees in response to vehicle speed. Tilting the panel upwards during high-speed driving gives the passenger a sense of security, while tilting it downwards during low-speed travel opens the space for a more relaxed feel.
A Biometrics Driving Unit ensures that drivers approaching their car are recognised by vehicle sensors and intelligent cameras, prompting the unlocking of the doors and the setting of the steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and instrument panel to the optimal position.
Furthermore, a system installed in the instrument panel senses the driver's line of sight shifting towards menu icons, and operates switches accordingly, allowing the driver hands-free operation of audio, air-conditioning and other vehicle systems.
The Home Energy Station
During the last seven years, Honda has made considerable strides in the development of fuel cell technology, but has also recognised that for the technology to be a success there has to be an adequate fuelling infrastructure. As part of its efforts to deliver an emissions-free, hydrogen-based society, Honda is developing the Home Energy Station which will generate clean power and hot water for the home and provide hydrogen fuel for the owner's car.
The Home Energy Station system uses a reformer to generate hydrogen from natural gas supplied directly to the home. The system's fuel cells then use this to generate and supply electricity to the home. The system is also configured to recover the heat produced during power generation for domestic water heating. In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by some 40 per cent, the Home Energy Station system is expected to lower the total running cost of household electricity, gas and vehicle fuel by 50 per cent.
The system is able to supply a sufficient amount of hydrogen to power a fuel cell vehicle, such as the Honda FCX, for daily operation, while providing electricity for an average-sized household.
It also functions as a backup power generation system during power outages by using the hydrogen in the storage tank to power the internal fuel cell, providing as much as 5 kW of electrical power to the home in normal and emergency conditions.
Developed in conjunction with technology partner Plug Power Inc., the latest version, the Home Energy Station, will be tested in conjunction with the Honda FCX, the world's most advanced fuel cell vehicle, at the Honda R&D Americas in Torrance, California.
HONDA RETURNS TO FORMULA 1 RACING AS A FULL WORKS TEAM
Honda's first foray into the sport came with the RA271, a radical design for the time, with its 1.5 litre 60 degree V12 engine mounted transversely behind the driver. The series that year was a highly competitive one with strong opposition; for the team it was more a case of building valuable experience than seeking victory and success eluded the company. However the signs were promising and the team was learning fast.
By the start of the 1965 season, the V12 had become the most powerful engine on the track, and the RA272 delivered the company's first Grand Prix victory in the rareified atmosphere of Mexico at the hands of American Richie Ginther.
Fast forward to 2006 and today's potent package features the new driver line-up of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello and the RA106, the first Formula One car launched by a Honda works team since 1968.
The new cars and their RA806E engines are the product of a single, unified team which combines the resources of the Honda Racing F1 Team Operations Centre in Brackley, England, Honda Racing Development's engine base in Bracknell, England, and Honda R&D in Tochigi, Japan.
The RA106 sports a new base canvas of Honda Racing White, with the more familiar livery of the Lucky Strike brand, which remains as title sponsor for the 2006 season.