Honda is done with pioneering in the hybrid space. The Japanese brand will electrify again when Australia gets its act together, and not a moment sooner.
The head of Honda's local arm says that whatever the brand might look to take leadership on in the Australian market, electrification won't be at the top of the list.
Speaking with CarAdvice, Honda Australia boss Stephen Collins touched on a two-fold problem: the business case for hybrids isn't compelling, and, for now, full-electric models seem to be on the 'look but don't touch' list for our region.
"Five or six years ago we had a whole suite of hybrids, and to be honest, we didn't get a lot of traction with them – mainly because the underlying consumer demand was very small," Collins says.
Each had their advantages, drawbacks and question marks, but a price premium didn't help. Collins says that while many markets overseas benefit from some form of incentive, there has been little movement on that front here.
"No incentives from governments, which is driving other markets, really meant that we got little traction with those models."
Honda Australia has ruled out bringing in the new hybrid version of the strong-selling CR-V, and for now the brand will sit and watch, to see how the market evolves into the next decade.
"We're taking a bit more of a cautious approach, and we also want to see where things will land with the government, in terms of CO2 targets and commitments, whenever that settles," Collins says.
"So, look, we've got lots of technologies and models available to us, and so in the short term, we're not planning on any particular hybrids. Accord (Hybrid) is an option, but it'll be small volume and we'll just wait and see a little bit on that front."
One issue the brand's leadership here will be watching closely, is the matter of targets on CO2 emissions. No surprise, this is an area Toyota has been vocal in, given its domination of the entire hybrid concept in Australia. It has doubled-down on the tech with its new Camry and Corolla lines, too, so it is far more invested in the success of those variants.
Honda may not be as outspoken on the matter, but Collins sits on the board of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. He's close to the issue.
"It's, especially the CO2 issue, is not a simple one. So there's a lot of discussions that need to continue to be had within that space and I think we just want certainty and I think that as a car industry and I think a car brand certainly is important for us to plan for the future."
It's clear Collins is not keen on gambling with hybrids again, until he can be sure it's the right path and a permanent move.
He remains certain, though, that Honda will land on the right strategy when the time is right. After all, the time for conventional hybrids may pass soon – Toyota's anomalous success aside – as brands focus on more advanced plug-in hybrid and full-electric tech.
"I'm confident we'll deliver great products, whether it's plug-in or whether it's hybrid or whether it's EV or whether it's even hydrogen. We'll sort that out in the near future."
Don't expect the retro cool Urban EV concept (above) to be among them, though. Revealed earlier this year and confirmed for a 2019 production schedule, it's looking like the little electric hatch won't be coming our way.
"I think at this point it's only available to the European market," Collins says, frustration clear in his voice. As I joke that I might move to Europe, Collins adds: "I'm with you, I think it's a beautiful looking thing."