Honda May Be Developing Plug-in Hybrid Pilot, And I Am Super Pumped
If you have read my articles on The News Wheel, you may have noticed that I like electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. A lot. However, I have always secretly and quietly despaired while hearing about the latest plug-in hybrid, because of one reason: automakers haven’t been putting plug-in hybrid powertrains in mainstream crossovers (with the exception of Mitsubishi, who delayed for years in bringing the Outlander PHEV to the US, and ignoring the high-priced premium brands).
So, when I heard that Automotive News had grabbed spy shots of a Honda Pilot test mule with two fueling doors, implying a plug-in hybrid powertrain, I was pumped.
— Automotive News (@Automotive_News) June 26, 2018
Before I go into why this so excites me, let’s start with some facts.
The Pilot, which currently uses a 3.5-liter V6, has had a very good year, with surging US sales fed by supply from a dedicated Alabama assembly line. The mid-size SUV set a new May sales record, jumping 36.1% year-over-year and 40.8% year-to-date. This continues even as Honda moves forward with plans for a Pilot refresh for the 2019 model year, likely with a new lower front fascia, new grille, and revised headlights.
Automotive News‘ spy shots are taken of a couple Pilot mules while on road tests somewhere in Ohio, likely near the Honda R&D facility near Raymond.
So, here’s why this is so exciting to me: the Honda Pilot is a popular vehicle in the mid-size crossover market segment, one of the most popular sales groups in the automotive industry. For once, one of the larger automakers (sorry Mitsubishi, your year-to-date sales for the whole lineup in May are eclipsed by just the Pilot’s numbers) is planning to install a plug-in hybrid powertrain in a popular, established, non-luxury crossover.
The results could be huge, is what I’m getting at.
I’m just holding my fingers crossed hard that this doesn’t end up as a test mule for something else, and that Honda follows through. Come on, Honda! I’m rooting for you!
Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.