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Honda E out of bounds for Australia

Out of charge: While the Honda e has created a stir since its reveal, it will not make its way to Australian showrooms anytime soon – if at all.

Retro Honda E city car to stay in EU and Japan for the foreseeable future

24 Oct 2019


HONDA has at last confirmed what fans of retro and electric vehicles (EV) have long suspected – that the Honda E EV will not be coming to Australia, at least not in the short term and probably not at all in its current guise.


Speaking to the media at the unveiling of the fourth-generation Honda Jazz in Tokyo this week, Honda Motor Company president and CEO Takahiro Hachigo advised that Australian fans of the original Civic-inspired retro EV should not hold their breath any time soon.


“The Honda E is just for Japan and Europe,” he said. “So, there are no plans unfortunately for Australia now.”


Asked to comment on what his global boss said in Tokyo, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins echoed the fact that only Europe and Japan will take the EV once production commences next year, but stopped short of ruling the series out altogether in the longer term.


“We love the Honda E. It’s a really exciting glimpse into Honda’s future,” he stated. “Of course, we would love to see it in Australia, but at this stage it has only been confirmed for Europe and Japan.”


Explaining the company’s reasoning behind restricting the Honda E’s global reach, Honda Motor Company EV chief engineer for the product planning division Kohei Hitomi told GoAuto that the costs required for re-engineering the diminutive EV to comply with the various design standards outside of its key Japanese and European markets would be prohibitive and so probably not recoupable.


“This was designed expressly for Japan and Europe, so it’s very difficult to sell it in the US or Australia,” he said. “Such as meeting (specific) crash requirements, side-mirror regulations and things like that means we cannot really bring the Honda E to the US or Australia easily… not unless there are regulation changes.”  


Australia has one of the more complicated design rules and regulations that car-makers have to meet, adding millions of dollars of extra investment to each model.


Other barriers facing the Honda E in Australia include unfavourable exchange rates adding upward pricing pressure to what is an already very expensive light car proposition due to the electrification technology onboard, the long-term decline of light-car sales as consumers shift to small SUVs, and the failure of the only other B-segment EV on sale – the conceptually similar Renault Zoe supermini from around $48,000 – to sell, with only five registered Down Under in the first nine months of this year.

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