DETROIT - Honda Motor Co. Ltd. President and CEO Hiroyuki Yoshino says at last month's North American International Auto Show that the company is in the process of changing its entire automotive engine range to produce a new generation of ultra-low emissions engines.

The new low-emissions engines will, at least at first, be only 4-cyl. engines in the 2L range, thus the technology likely won't figure into the deal Honda recently made with General Motors Corp. to supply GM with low-emissions V-6 engines of a current design (see p.25).

Engine manufacturing lines in Japan, Mr. Yoshino says, already are being reconfigured to produce the new engine series that, when compared to today's typical Honda 2L 4-cyl. engine, will be 10% lighter and smaller, yield 10% to 20% better fuel economy and meet California's new Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) emissions standard. Moreover, says Mr. Yoshino, the new engines will offer better overall performance and improved low-speed torque.

The first of Honda's new generation of engines will be introduced in Japan later this year and will be offered in the U.S. in 2001 - likely for the redesigned, next-generation Civic, Ward's learns. The new engines also will be built in the U.S. By 2005, Honda says it will have replaced its entire automotive engine range with the new low-emitting, high-power design.

Adding to the punch of Honda's proposed new engine designs is a promise from Mr. Yoshino that the company also will adopt the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system found in the new, high-mileage Insight hybrid-electric vehicle (see WAW - Nov.'99, p.88) for "mass-market models" in the future. The IMA system is crucial to the Insight's outstanding fuel economy rating of 70 mpg (3.4L/100 km) on the highway.

Mr. Yoshino does not offer a timeframe for adoption of IMA into engines for mass-market vehicles, but does say that the system will be combined with the coming high-tech 4-cyl. engine design.