Honda Australia says that its first pure-EV model is unlikely to reach local shores before the end of the decade
Honda Australia has confirmed that its ‘mid-term’ electrification plans will focus exclusively on hybrid vehicles, with a product expansion strategy that includes no pure-electric vehicles for the determinable future.
It’s a strategy that will surprise some, given the brand’s broader global EV vision. Last year, Honda announced that it will introduce 30 pure electric models internationally by 2030.
While a majority of those new products are expected to hit electric-hungry nations such as China, the move to not offer any in Australia for now is an unusual strategy.
Honda Australia chief executive officer and executive director Carolyn MacMahon explained that the decision had been made not as a reflection of the future Honda EV line up, but in response to both local demand and the challenges presented by introducing electric vehicles.
“I wouldn’t say it’s not important for us to get an electric car,” she said, “When we look at the Australian market’s ability to cope with electric, we don’t think it’s quite there.”
“We think hybrid is the right strategy at this point in time and we don’t have any plans at the moment to introduce an EV.”
While McMahon cites the problems associated with government initiatives and incentives as part of the roadblock, the company is also considering a significant portion of its customers in more remote parts of the country, for whom combustion-supported transport still makes most sense.
“The other critical point is our regional and rural market and for us, hybrid is right.”
For now, there won’t be any battery-powered Hondas represented in local showrooms, but the company is maintaining an open-minded approach to all future models with a future product introduction plan that remains flexible, based the brand’s commitment to remaining in Australia long-term.
“That’s not to say that Honda won’t be looking at electric vehicles in the future,” said McMahon. “Our electrification strategy is all about using hybrid to bridge to electric in the future.”
“We’re continually monitoring the market, monitoring what vehicles might be available to us, what’s shifting in the market. We have our set product planning periods, but we’re also open to what changes happen and what opportunities there might be.”
“At the right time we’ll have a look at those 30 or so models and then we’ll see where is the right spot for us. It might be something completely different.”
As for how long that process will take is somewhat broad at this stage. According to McMahon, the ‘mid term’ for which hybrids will dominate represents around five years. It’s fair to assume therefore, that Honda EVs won’t show up Down Under until the end of the decade.
“Long-term there will be electrics,” confirmed McMahon, “Honda [Australia] will eventually get to EV.”
In the interim, the local line up can be expected to offer at least one hybrid variant in each of the model lines.
The recently refreshed HR-V small SUV is available in range-topping e-HEV L ($47,000 driveaway), the Civic hatch gained a $55,000 hybrid model last year, while the imminent, next-generation CR-V midsize SUV will follow suit in adopting a hybrid option when the next-gen model arrives later this year.
Beyond that, the recently-announced ZR-V – a compact crossover that slotting between the HR-V and CR-V – will also feature a hybrid version, honouring McMahon’s promise when it touches down in May.
“There will be a hybrid variant ZR-V and that’ll be in the top e-HEV LX variant.”
“Our main focus at the moment is to expand hybrid technology across every model. We will have a hybrid variant across each nameplate.
With a pledge of five trillion yen (AUD $53.7 billion) over the next 10 years, Honda is seriously ramping up its electric endeavours, but a significant investment is required if it’s to hit its target of 30 EV models in less than seven years.
The electric onslaught is expected to include a zero-emissions successor to the mighty NSX supercar along with a major focus on SUV models to cater for the insatiable global demand for crossovers and high-riders.
The company’s electric odyssey has already started with the introduction of the Honda E dinky hatchback but no…err…Odyssey.
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