Honda is no stranger to the development of hybrids of all kinds. In 1997, the Honda J-VX stepped into the light as the first hybrid sports car design to ever hit the drawing board. It was slated to use the Integral Motor Assist system that Honda had recently developed as one of their primary electric/hybrid systems. The concept vehicle was first unveiled in October at the Tokyo Motor Show. At this time, it was easily achieving 70 miles to the gallon with the help of its super-capacitor electric storage technology.
Under the hood, it was working with a single-liter, three-cylinder VTEC engine. There were many other futuristic qualities to the design as well that help to sway the minds' of drivers when it came to the vehicle's technological sophistication. These characteristics included items such as a completely glass roof and "air belts" that were based on innovative airbag technologies. While the vehicle showed great promise out of the gate, it eventually evolved into the design used to launch the Honda VV.
The many ways that the J-VX was unique included its aerodynamic body design and the extremely lightweight materials from which it was composed. Designers were working towards creating a car that offered outstanding sports-car performance on top of energy efficiency and low emissions. Like many sports car designs, there were some severe limitations when it came to space, however. The cargo area was almost non-existent. Drivers were given a two-door design that opened up to a four-seater. The rear of the vehicle extended vertically downwards from the flat, glass top. The design also featured tapered lines above the wheel wells in the rear.
As the J-VX made the transition into the VV, there were many different changes made to the body. The materials were shifted to advanced aluminum that offered greater strength on top of easier production methods. There was also a change in the battery along with a reclassification away from a sports car and towards that of an extremely efficient, low-emission vehicle.