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Honda Introduces New Diesel

Honda Introduces New Diesel

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
Everyone's got a pretty good sense of what the German manufacturers have planned on the diesel front. After all, it's their strong suit and the core of their business in their home market and throughout Europe. But when it comes to Honda, particularly in the U.S., the picture is more complex. After all, this is the company that has the highest corporate average fuel economy, was the first to introduce a hybrid car in America, and prides itself on its environmental image. The backstory that has been passed along is this: Honda engineers were not eager to introduce a diesel in the European market, though they were told it was key to success there. So they designed what they like to call a "Honda" diesel and introduced it to the market with a psychedelic ad narrated by Garrison Keillor.

The advertising slogan for the ad was: "Hate something. Change something. Make something better." The original European Honda diesel is now coming to America, modified to meet California's (and by extension all 50 states') strict emissions regulations. The first home for the i-DTEC will be in the 2009 Acura TSX, which is one of the places it's found in Europe (though that model is badged as a Honda Accord there). Between now and then the TSX will get a restyling.

The engine is a relatively compact 4-cylinder at 2.2 liters, but it's expected to produce around 150 hp, and the torque-which is what you feel when you take off from a stop-should be more than 250 lb.-ft. Fuel economy should be in the range now achieved by Honda's hybrid Civic. In European trim the engine delivers more than 60 mpg on the highway and combined numbers above 50 mpg, though those numbers may be knocked down somewhat by the stricter emission and different fuel economy testing system used in the U.S.

Honda also has taken a different approach than some of the Germans (Mercedes and BMW in particular) in its approach to emissions control. While their systems have a separate tank that adds a urea solution to the exhaust, the Honda system generates and stores ammonia within a 2-layer catalytic converter to turn (smog-producing) nitrogen oxide into harmless nitrogen. Volkswagen has a similar approach for its Jetta, which will be on the market this year.

Next up Honda's sleeve is a V-6 diesel engine that could be used in its trucks and SUVs. Also worth noting-the 2.2-liter diesel European engine also shows up in the CR-V and the Civic, so there may be an opportunity to expand its applications here if the company finds a new market Stateside.

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