The mystery of the bizarre Honda test mule in recent spy shots might be over. According to Autocar, the hacked-up vehicle could be the development platform for the company’s upcoming dedicated hybrid.
The test mule is heavily modified Honda City, which is the sedan version of the Fit. This one is longer than stock, and the extra room likely provides the room for mounting the batteries. The model was packed with sensors for gathering data and had a bulging hood. A dedicated team within Honda’s R&D group has been developing the model’s powertrain and body since October 2016.
Honda announced plans to build the new hybrid at the 2017 Detroit Motor Show in January. At the time, the company said that the vehicle would use a two-motor setup that would derive its tech from the Accord Hybrid. The firm promised that the new model would arrive in 2018 and would be assembled in the United States.
The Japanese automaker aims to electrify two-thirds of its global auto sales by 2030, and the process is already underway. For example, Honda will launch the new 2018 Accord Hybrid and Clarity PHEV later this year, and a hybrid CR-V will possibly arrive soon, too. A pair of electric models will also debut in 2018, but one of them will be exclusive to China. In addition, the company will investigate whether there's room for a Pilot EV.
Using the modified City as a test mule suggests that the dedicated hybrid might be a compact vehicle to slot below the electrified Accord and Clarity. It's a segment where Honda doesn't currently offer a hybrid in the United States, so there's a hole in the lineup there.