TOKYO 2013: Honda's lightweight special

HONDA’S return to Formula 1 is already paying dividends, with the company revealing new carbon-fibre technology to reduce weight in its road cars by at least 30 per cent.

Currently under evaluation in prototype form only, the lightweight technology centres on carbon-fibre tubs (think McLaren MP4-12C) and carbon body panels that not only use F1 know-how but borrow science from Honda’s jet program.

Demonstrated on an 800kg CR-Z at Honda’s R&D facility in Tochigi, Japan, engineers revealed the new designs aren’t only safer but improve acceleration and fuel efficiency — by 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Sadly, this lightweight tech won’t make its way into road cars until at least 2020, but don’t expect it to be hideously expensive by then — Honda suggested that if it were available now, it would add around one million Yen (A$10,000) to the price of a standard CR-Z.

But while lighter cars will undoubtedly be better, it’s not the only thing cooking inside Honda’s R&D facility; it’s also trialling a new steer-by-wire system and is developing what it claims is the world’s first eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox with CVT.

Designed to eliminate the infamous low-speed jerkiness of dual-clutch gearboxes, while also offering fast, positive changes when driven hard, Honda says the eight-speed system is currently engineered for its atmospheric petrol range and works best with the 2.4-litre V6.

While information was scarce, Honda engineers told Wheels the new ’box should offer the best of both worlds, with its torque converter system only working at low speeds and the dual-clutch system kicking in during spirited driving.

Since it’s still in its infancy, Honda wouldn’t reveal when the new ’box would make it into production but expect to see it on the road some time in 2016.

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