Almost neglected completely at the Honda press presentation at the Tokyo Motor Show today was what could be a true game changer. Lots of people drive minivans. Lots of people like hybrids. There are even some hybrid minivans for sale in Japan. But Honda has never offered its popular Odyssey premium minivan with a gas-electric powertrain. That’s about to change. Too bad this fact was not mentioned at all during the press conference.
The hybrid Odyssey was on the show floor, though, and a press pack distributed by Honda says that the minivan will have an updated dual-motor Sport Hybrid i-MMD powertrain “for outstanding environmental performance and powerful acceleration.” Honda also says that this is the first time is has put the IPU (the Intelligent Power Unit, made up of the battery and Power Control Unit) under the front row seats. Overall, the powertrain update offers a, “new hybrid driving experience,” Honda says, and that now, “the Odyssey Hybrid makes minivan travel more enjoyable than ever.”
The van also seems to be of a high specification, with plush seats, dark micro-fiber decorating the dash and forward areas, and captains chairs that look primed for napping. Hauling your family the green way comes with some creature comforts, it seems.
Honda isn’t any details about the environmental benefits of putting a hybrid powertrain into the Odyssey, but when the rumor of this vehicle first appeared, there was talk of a 50-percent reduction in fuel use. For a number of reasons – most important being that the American and Japanese Odysseys are very different vehicles – it’s unlikely that a hybrid Odyssey will be available in the US any time soon.