Summary: The Honda division is getting "all the goods" when it comes to alternate fuel technology, while Acura is missing out. All that will radically change within the next few years.
While parent company Honda continues to bestow all of its hybrid technology on its Honda division vehicles, Acura is doing without any alternate engine sources to power their cars and SUVs. Instead, the division is relying on newer gasoline engines to promote fuel efficiency as well as to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Is Acura doing enough or is Honda's luxury division missing the boat? Big changes are headed Acura's way, changes that could enormously overhaul the brand and bring to the market vehicles powered by a variety of alternate fuel sources. Let's examine exactly what might be Acura's alternate powerplant offerings at the beginning of the next decade.
Diesel, Biodiesel - Honda got into the diesel market late, but the company's first offerings are considered to be exceptionally good. Four cylinder powered diesel engines are being developed that will initially appear in select Honda model cars within the next two years. These new engines meet current EPA guidelines and raise the typical fuel mileage of each car by about 30%. Importantly, each engine will be able to run on biodiesel a renewable resource made of ingredients such as soybeans. Acura may get its own diesel aspirated engine soon after the launch of the first diesel powered Honda hits the market.
Ethanol - Unlike American based automakers, Honda has no plans to offer vehicles that can run on E85 technology. E85, consisting of 85% ethanol [usually corn] and 15% straight gasoline has been getting a lot of press attention lately. However, the extreme lack of service stations offering the fuel has kept demand low. Honda has decided to concentrate on next generation hybrid technology instead of branching out to E85.
Hydrogen - Claiming that the first hydrogen powered car will be ready for production within the next 3 or 4 years, some are doubting that Honda will be prepared to make such a move until well after then. Look for Acura to only get a hydrogen powered car several years after the first Honda hydrogen vehicle has been successfully tested in Japan.
Pluggable Hybrid - To extend hybrid fuel economy even further, pluggable hybrid powered vehicles are currently being developed. Acura's first hybrid may include this technology once Honda readies it for the market. Toyota is readying a similar model and Ford is doing likewise. 100 mpg may be a realistic figure once these vehicles are rolled out.
Natural Gas - A natural gas powered Acura isn't likely to be produced, simply because Honda is investing in hybrid, diesel, and hydrogen technology above all else. Still, natural gas could be used in future fuel cell vehicles to make hydrogen. Thus, in an indirect way natural gas could power an Acura vehicle of the not-too-distant future.
So, although it would appear that Acura isn't getting the same alternate fuel technology as the Honda division is at the moment, it would appear that all of that will change in the very near future. This is good news for people who enjoy the Acura brand, but want to see it expand to include options that are environmentally friendly and promote fuel efficiency.