New Models

Honda’s new electric-car push and return to hybrid tech

Honda was one of the pioneers of hybrid cars in Australia but then left the segment. Now it wants hybrids and electric cars to account for 25 per cent of sales by 2025.

Honda's retro-styled electric car – the E Prototype – is expected to lead the Japanese brand’s entry into battery powered vehicles in Australia within two years.And the company wants a quarter of its local sales to be hybrid or electric by 2025.

“We definitely want it. As an urban funky looking runabout, absolutely,” said Honda Australia boss Stephen Collins when asked about the chances of the Geneva motor show concept, the Honda E Prototype, coming to Australia.

“We helped pioneer hybrids in Australia since the original Insight (in 2001). We quit hybrids because the market was so small... we couldn’t make it economically stack up and we had a lot of other priorities in our business.”

Honda says that although the electric-car market is still only about 1.5 per cent of total sales in Australia “it’s clearly going to grow, acceptance is improving”.

The new Honda Accord will be the first full model change to offer a hybrid when it goes on sale locally later this year, but the company eventually wants a hybrid version of every model in its range.

“Our projection is that by 2025 about 25 per cent of our volume will be electrified, either as hybrid or battery electric,” said Mr Collins.

“The world’s changing. Honda in Europe plans to have 100 per cent of its line-up electrified by 2025. There’s clearly regulatory change which is driving that in some markets (but) eventually our view is that will happen here. There is greater (customer) acceptance, we are seeing signs of growth and we think that’s going to continue.”

Honda conceded cost was still a barrier to making electric cars available to the masses, but that would come down over time.

“When you’ve got other markets around the world mandating CO2 targets – and to meet that you have to bring these cars to market – clearly that’s going to bring the cost down,” said Mr Collins.

“The (price) premium needs to be reasonable ... and you need to offer value. If you don’t ... then why would you buy it?”

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling