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Honda Thailand has launched the new Accord Hybrid in the Kingdom, and the Thai-assembled car is available in two grade levels, a baseline Hybrid and a higher-specification version called the Hybrid Tech.

Both are powered by a Sport Hybrid Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system consisting of a 2.0 litre i-VTEC four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine offering 141 hp (143 PS) at 6,200 rpm and 165 Nm at 4,500 rpm, a pair of electric motors – one for traction and the other for generation – and a 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery.

The two electric motors work together to act as an e-CVT transmission, which is not a CVT gearbox per se but a package of various components acting together to work like a CVT. The traction motor part of the e-CVT package is rated at 166 hp (124 kW) and 307 Nm with a maximum speed of 12,584 rpm. The other motor acts as a generator, turning the combustion engine’s motion into electricity.

Under normal driving, the combustion engine only drives the generator motor, which produces electricity. This electricity is used to recharge the lithium-ion battery as well as provide power to the 166 hp, 307 Nm traction motor. The traction motor uses this power to drive the front wheels.

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However, a clutch allows the engine to drive the wheels directly. The system’s software only does this under scenarios where it determines an engine driving the wheels mechanically would be more fuel efficient, which is usually at highway speeds. Because of that, the engine is connected to the wheels with a single ratio that is similar to a Honda automatic gearbox’s highest gear.

So essentially, there are three modes – an EV mode where the traction motor is powered by the battery, a hybrid mode where the traction motor is powered by electricity produced by the combustion engine driving the generator motor, and an engine drive mode where the engine drives the wheels directly.

Electric-only operation is possible up to speeds of 100 km/h, as was seen when the i-MMD system was sampled at the ‘2012 Honda Meeting – Earth Dreams Technology’ showcase in Japan.

Exterior highlights for the 4.89 metre-long hybrid include blue-tinted covers for the head/ tail lamps and a blue-shaded radiator grille to denote the type. For wheels, the Hybrid is equipped with 17-inch alloys and 225/50 series tyres, while the Hybrid Tech wears 18-inch units, wrapped with 235/45 profile rubbers.

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In terms of equipment, the car features LED-equipped headlamps and taillights, cruise control (Adaptive on the Hybrid Tech variant), dual-zone air-con, memory seats, a Smart Key System with push-start ignition and Intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID).

On the base Hybrid, the system has a 7.5-inch TFT screen, complete with Advanced Touch, Siri voice command, HDMI connection, twin USB ports, paired with a six-speaker audio system. The Hybrid Tech, meanwhile, gets an eight-inch TFT screen and HDD Audio as well as a seven-speaker Premium audio system with subwoofer, but loses one USB port and the HDMI. It also gets a sunroof.

Standard safety equipment common to both versions includes six airbags (front, i-Side and side curtain), VSA, ABS with EBD, brake assist, hill-start assist, a multi-angle rearview camera and the company’s LaneWatch blind-spot detection system.

The Hybrid Tech variant adds on Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS), which uses a radar to detect moving and stationary vehicles some 100 metres ahead of the vehicle.

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The CMBS has three stages of operation – three seconds before impact, the driver is alerted by warnings. Two seconds before impact, three sharp tugs are given on the seat belt and the car starts to apply some braking automatically. If a collision is unavoidable, the system tightens the front seat occupants’ seat belts and applies a high level braking force.

In Thailand, four exterior colours are available for the Accord Hybrid, these being two pearl shades called Crystal Black Pearl, White Orchid Pearl and two metallic ones, Modern Steel and Alabaster Silver.

As for the interior, the base Hybrid comes with a black interior while the Hybrid Tech features a beige-themed one. A Modulo accessories package is also available to dress up the car, with the usual garnish and add-on bits to be found.

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Last September, it was reported that ASEAN assembly of the car was being studied, with probable markets for it being Thailand and Malaysia, a point that was reiterated at KLIMS13 when the Accord Plug-in Hybrid was showcased at the exhibition.

Now that series production in Thailand is a reality and retail there has begun, the question is whether or not the Accord Hybrid will find its way here. Our sources in Honda Malaysia say that the company is still mulling the idea of bringing the car in, but don’t hold your breath to it happening anytime soon.

Word is that the hybrid focus this year on smaller cars will be retained (the soon-to-be launched third-gen Jazz should have a hybrid version to replace the current one built here, and there’s the confirmed City Hybrid), so even if it happens, it won’t happen in 2014.

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Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid showcased at KLIMS13 – we won’t get the plug-in version

Meanwhile, UMW Toyota is already preparing the launch of a hybrid offering in the D-segment market in the form of the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which was sighted at JPJ Putrajaya recently (the car was registered); UMW Toyota is aiming for the Camry Hybrid to be priced close to the RM200k mark, just above the Camry 2.4.

How much would an Accord Hybrid be priced in Malaysia? In Thailand, the Accord Hybrid is set very close to the Accord 2.4, no doubt thanks to government incentives. The base Accord Hybrid goes for 1,659,000 baht (RM164,100), while the Accord Hybrid Tech retails for 1,899,000 baht (RM187,800).

The Accord 2.4, meanwhile, ranges from 1,549,000 baht (RM153,200) for the base model up to 1,799,000 baht (RM178,000) for the range-topping Accord 2.4 Tech, so in terms of local rates, would we be looking at the Accord Hybrid being priced accordingly (ha ha) higher than the RM168k Accord 2.4 VTi-L here?