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Honda patents technology for engine with variable piston height technology

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On: Mon, May 9, 2016 at 1:48PM | By: Carl Malek

Honda patents technology for engine with variable piston height technology

The folks at AutoGuide have discovered, in the database of a Japanese patent office, a series of new patents show that Honda engineers are seriously looking into new engines that would feature variable piston heights in a bold move to increase fuel efficiency for Honda's lineup.

Implementing the variable piston height technology into its engines, along with cylinder deactivation, will create an engine able to be fielded in different displacements. In theory, a four-cylinder engine could have as many as 15 different displacements, depending on the height of all four cylinders as well as how many cylinders are actively firing while the engine is running. This deceptively simple approach would make the Honda engine highly flexible, and would be able to be offered in a wide range of models. This new engine would have a lot more flexibility than the current 2.0-liter four-cylinder which has only four 500cc cylinders and, as a result, limits its range of use to four setups: 500cc, 1000cc, 1500cc, and 2000cc.

Developing an engine like this would also help Honda save significant money in R&D costs, mainly due to the company being able to adapt the engine to various setups with only minimal tweaks to the cylinder height and engine construction. The patents themselves provide a compelling glimpse of this adaptability by showcasing applications for inline two-, three-, and four-cylinder engines. This would theoretically open the door for new possibilities that could eventually trickle down to next generation Honda models. This technology could also be used in bigger V6 engines for increased fuel economy and performance, though Honda has not revealed (in patents or otherwise) whether it is exploring such an idea.

Regardless of whether it will be used in V6s or not, this key development could help Honda build models that are not only more efficient than their predecessors, they would allow the Japanese auto giant to comply with stricter emissions laws that are set to take effect in both Europe and the U.S.. Both markets are very important for Honda sales and are seen by execs as key battlegrounds for sales against rivals such as Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, and Ford.


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