Honda will launch a new dedicated hybrid vehicle in 2018, and re-enter the space still dominated by the Toyota Prius.
Honda forecasts 65 per cent of its sales by 2030 will have an electric drivetrain of some sort, whether it be a pure electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid setup.
According to Car and Driver, Takahiro Hachigo, Honda’s CEO, gave a few more clues as to how the automaker will achieve its ambitious target.
In addition to the two electric cars it is currently developing, as well as the plug-in hybrid and pure electric versions of the Clarity, the company is reportedly also preparing a new standalone hybrid model.
Above and top: Second-generation Honda Insight.
Said to be a small car, the new model will have its own unique exterior. It’s not entirely clear what shape the vehicle will take. One is possibility is that it could be another hatchback in the mould of the Toyota Prius and second-generation Insight.
It’s also possible the new Honda hybrid could be an SUV. This would make sense given the continued growth in SUV sales, and how the Kia Niro crossover (12,676) has comfortably outsold the Hyundai Ioniq hatch (4,881) so far this year in the USA.
When the new dedicated hybrid model is launched, it will be Honda’s flagship hybrid car, and will join hybrid variants of regular models in its range, including the Jazz/Fit, City/Grace, Accord and, soon, CR-V.
Above: First-generation Honda Insight.
Although Honda helped to pioneer the petrol-electric hybrid as we know it today with the original Insight, it is Toyota, initially with the Prius and more recently with its hybrid variants, which gained the majority of the sales and mind share.
Focussing on maximum efficiency, the first-generation Insight had an aerodynamic, but impractical three-door hatchback. Needless to say it wasn’t a big seller, especially after the Prius sedan was launched.
The second-generation Insight, launched in 2009, had a Prius-like Kamm-back body, but, outside of Japan, never really set the sales charts alight. Although it had sharp pricing, its less complex and less efficient mild hybrid setup resulted in higher fuel consumption than the Prius it was often compared against.
It’s not known, at this stage, whether the new Honda hybrid will be available in Australia.