The ink is still drying on Chrysler’s press release regarding an upcoming hybrid version of its new Pacifica minivan, and Honda is already revealing a hybrid suburbanite hauler of its own. The catch? This Odyssey Hybrid is only slated for release in its home market of Japan. Regardless, soccer parents can drool over the thought of a minivan that doesn’t have to visit the pump after just a few days of dance recitals, baseball practice, trips to the mall, and taking the kiddos to friends’ houses.
The new Odyssey Hybrid will roll into dealers in Japan boasting a tweaked version of the Accord Hybrid’s powertrain and a ¥3.65 million ($31,282) starting price. The gas-electric unit, known as the Sport Hybrid i-MMD, will use a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors for motivation. Lacking in this setup is a transmission, as the Odyssey Hybrid will instead use the direct-drive motors as a virtual CVT of sorts. This helps offset the added heft of the hybrid-drive system while keeping that initial punchiness that electric motors provide.
Not all of the specs for the Odyssey Hybrid are available yet, but the initial fuel-economy numbers put it at an insane 61 mpg. Now, before you start storming Honda headquarters demanding your 61 mpg Odyssey Hybrids, remember that this is based on a quite forgiving JC08 cycle. In EPA testing, this could be cut almost in half to the 30 to 35 mpg range. While that is still great for an eight-person minivan, it is a far cry from the J-spec ratings.
As I mentioned earlier, Honda has no plans to release a hybrid-powered Odyssey here in the U.S., but we do have the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid coming in late 2016. This van delivers an estimated 80 mpg-e and up to 30 miles of EV range. Given Chrysler’s offering is received well by minivan shoppers, this could force Honda’s hand in pushing the Odyssey Hybrid into the U.S. market.
My thoughts are that given gas is now below $2 per gallon now and hybrid purchases are way down, it may take some time for manufacturers to start ramping up hybrid models in the U.S. But, as we all know about fuel prices, they typically shoot up 10 times faster than they fall after big drops like this. If that trend continues, we should see the hybrid and EV market trend back upward pretty quickly.
Stay tuned for more details on this minivan and its potential launch into the American market.