Following the launch of the 2013 Accord, Honda will produce both a plug-in hybrid and a hybrid version of its midsize sedan. The Accord Plug-in Hybrid uses an entirely new hybrid drive system with three modes. The car can run on pure electric power for 10 to 15 miles. When the driver calls for more acceleration or the battery becomes low, the engine kicks in to serve as a generator, sending more electricity to the drive motor. With the battery almost depleted, the engine will drive the wheels, the electric drive system assisting as the battery regains power through brake regeneration.
Honda replaced the hood and rear bumper with aluminum parts, and used an aluminum front subframe to help reduce weight. Aerodynamics are aided by flat underbody pans. As with the standard Accord, the Accord Plug-in Hybrid is front-wheel-drive.
Although the body features few changes from the standard Accord, the grille treatment is different. The badge and a big chrome bar, accentuated with blue inserts, run between the headlights. The air intake drops lower than on the standard Accord, and has a honeycomb grille.
Because of the new hybrid system, Honda was able to significantly downsize the gas engine from a 2.4-liter in the standard Accord to a 137-horsepower 2-liter Atkinson cycle engine in the plug-in hybrid. A continuously variable transmission incorporates a 124-kilowatt electric motor, which can drive the car under pure electric power for 10 to 15 miles. Honda rates the total drive system output at 196 horsepower.
A plug-in port sits on the left front fender. Honda projects the electric drive efficiency at over 100 miles per gallon equivalent, although the combined gas-electric EPA rating is likely to be much less. With a 240-volt source, recharge times are less than an hour. The charging time goes up to 3 hours for a 110-volt source.
The Accord Plug-in Hybrid will only come in one trim level, equivalent to a high-trim gasoline-engine Accord. As such, it will come standard with a hard-drive-based navigation system and feature the new EV version of the HondaLink system, which lets owners use a smartphone app to schedule charging.
Honda has partnered with Leviton for charging stations. Owners will be able to get charging stations installed in their garages, although with the quick charge times for the Accord Plug-in Hybrid, it will probably not be necessary for most people.