TOKYO — Honda Motor Co. Ltd. unveils its European powertrain strategy with details of two new engines: one diesel, the other gasoline — over the next 12 months, and a third new engine — another diesel — to come in 2003.

Honda's plan:

▪ A 1.7L turbodiesel, to be produced in Poland by Isuzu Motors Polska, will be featured for the new European Civic. The car is scheduled to go on sale in January.

Honda president Hiroyuki Yoshino says negotiations have been under way since 1999, when the Japanese automaker concluded an engine supply arrangement with General Motors Corp. to supply GM with 90,000 “ultra-low-emissions” DOHC V-6 engines per year for five years, starting in fall 2003.

Honda V-6s produced at Honda of America Manufacturing's Anna, OH, engine plant currently find use in the Acura MDX, TL and CL, as well as in the Honda-badged Accord and Odyssey.

Under the agreement with GM affiliate Isuzu Motors Ltd., Honda of the U.K. Mfg. Ltd. will purchase 15,000 diesels in fiscal 2002 or 1,250 per month. An Isuzu spokesman expects the number to increase in the future, but offers no details.

Monthly, Isuzu Motors Polska supplies 21,500 compact diesels to Opel AG for the Astra and Corsa models. All engines, like the Honda unit, have a displacement of 1.7L.

Mr. Yoshino says Isuzu redesigned the engine specially for Honda by overhauling the fuel supply system to incorporate a common-rail-fed, direct-injection (DI) system developed by Robert Bosch GmbH. With dual overhead cams, the engine generates 99 hp.

This contrasts to the Opel unit, which features a more conventional, low-pressure DI system; the engine produces only 74 hp.

▪ A Honda-developed 2L turbodiesel will be featured for the next-generation European Accord, due out in 2003. Although no decision has been made on the production site for the engine, management is leaning toward Honda U.K.'s Swindon plant, which currently makes 1.6L, 1.8L, 2L and 2.3L gasoline engines for the Accord and 1.4L and 1.6L units for the Civic.

Honda unveiled a 1.6L prototype of the new diesel just prior to the Tokyo Motor Show in September 1999.

Like the Isuzu unit, Honda's diesel will adopt a Bosch common-rail DI system. Unlike Isuzu's, the Honda engine is designed with an aluminum block, and thus can be manufactured on the same line as the company's gasoline engines.

Apart from Europe, Mr. Yoshino believes there is potential demand for diesel vehicles in Asia, thus Honda's decision to develop a compact diesel by itself.

▪ A 1.3L gasoline engine, the second in the automaker's new 4-cyl. “i” series, will be fitted for a still-unspecified model based on Honda's new global small car platform. A 5-door hatchback, also equipped with the engine, will be launched in June in Japan.

The new engine, designated “i-DSI,” has two spark plugs in each combustion chamber. This maximizes combustion inside the chamber, enabling higher engine output with less fuel, says Honda. Maximum output and torque are 85 hp at 5,700 rpm and 88 lb.-ft. (119 Nm) at 2,800 rpm.

Meanwhile, the engine boasts fuel economy of 55 mpg (4.3L/100 km). Honda claims this is tops in its class in stop-and-go urban driving (measured on Japan's 10-15 driving mode), while meeting 2010 fuel efficiency standards. The company's existing 1.3L 4-cyl. engine — the D13B — gets only 43 mpg (5.5L/100 km).

Researchers attribute 10% of the i-DSI's superior fuel economy to Honda's “Multimatic S” continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Unlike the “i-VTEC,” the first in Honda's “i” 4-cyl. series which debuted in the 2L Stream last October, the i-DSI does not use Honda's famed VTEC technology. Instead it relies on intense combustion at all rpm to achieve its low fuel consumption levels.

Researchers note that this is made possible through use of dual-point sequential ignition controls. They add that the engine's combustion characteristics not only produce higher output but also control knock and contribute to meeting Japan's low-emissions vehicle standards.

The i-DSI, which is based on the 3-cyl. Insight engine (the valvetrain is the same, for instance), weighs just 174 lbs. (79 kg), 8% less than Honda's current 1.3L I-4.

Weight reduction was primarily achieved through improved design; specifically, Honda narrowed the i-DSI's valve angle by one-third to 30 degrees. This enabled the automaker to slash dimensions: length including the transmission was cut by 4.6 ins. (11.8 cm) — from 21.3 ins. (54.1 cm) to 16.7 ins. (42.3 cm) — while width was cut by 2.7 ins. (6.9 cm).

Although the new i-DSI has a displacement of 1.3L, Mr. Yoshino notes that the engine's displacement can be decreased or increased within a 1L to 1.5L range depending on market requirements.

In a related development, Mr. Yoshino confirms that versions of the i-VTEC engine, which currently is available on the Stream and Step WGN in Japan, also in the new 2002 Integra and Acura RSX (both built in Japan), and the 3-door Civic, to be built in the U.K. for export to Japan and the U.S.