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Honda Australia hits pause on EV roll-out

Press play: The Sports EV (left) is on Honda Australia’s radar, but the Urban EV (below) is the only one of the two that has been confirmed for production yet.

CO2 emission targets key to mass EV adoption, not incentives: Honda Australia

Honda logo16 May 2018

HONDA Australia has revealed that it will take a cautious approach to introducing electric vehicles into the local market, preferring to wait until the segment has more momentum behind it.
 
Speaking to journalists in Melbourne this week, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins confirmed that the company was holding back its EV rollout until carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets are established.
 
“We don’t have any immediate plans to launch EVs … in the next year or two,” he said.
 
“Much of our strategy will be finalised based on the discussions that are happening right now on CO2 emissions and what the targets will be and what will be mandated.”
 
The Australian federal government continues to hold discussions with stakeholders regarding the establishment of local CO2 emissions targets that would prompt the introduction of low- and zero-emissions models, such as EVs.
 
According to Mr Collins, a production version of the Sports EV concept revealed at the Tokyo motor show in October last year is one such model on the cards, but the small size of the electrified segment would prevent an early market debut.
 
“The Sports EV, I definitely think there’s an opportunity,” he said. “The reality right now is if you take hybrid and EV sales in the last 12 months and you just look at private sales, it’s 0.06 per cent of the market.
 
“So, it’s still such a tiny, tiny part of the market, but in the longer term that game will change, particularly with the mandating of CO2 targets.
 
“We have the technology globally – whether it be hybrid or EV or hydrogen – to bring it to market, but it won’t be in the next couple of years.”
 
Honda Australia has tried its hand before with hybrid version of its models, such as the Jazz light hatch, Civic and Insight small cars, CR-Z sportscar and Accord mid sizer but eventually pulled them out of the market due to slow sales.
 
Unlike executives from many other automotive companies, Mr Collins explained that he does not believe government incentives were the key to mass EV adoption, instead reiterating the importance of creating CO2 emissions targets.
 
“In certain markets around the world, there’s been a lot of government incentives to promote and generate hybrid car sales, but that’s currently not the policy (in Australia), and we don’t expect that to become the policy,” he said.
 
“The other adoption (method) in other markets around the world, including India now, is to mandate a CO2 number, which will mandate manufacturers to bring to market and sell (these models). It’s clearly going to go down that road as opposed to the incentive road.”
 
When questioned if hydrogen-fuelled powertrains were a viable zero-emission alternative to pure battery EVs, Mr Collins was coy about their long-term prospects.
 
“Of course we have the hydrogen technology, (but) whether that’s an option down the track, we’re still trying to work that out,” he said.
 
“We have (hydrogen), as well as EVs and more traditional hybrids, available to us, so we think that whatever the demand is, we can reach that point.”
 
While Honda Australia was not directly involved in the recently formed Hydrogen Mobility Australia advocacy body, of which rivals Toyota Australia and Hyundai Motor Company Australia are both founding members, Mr Collins confirmed that the company had opened dialogue with it.

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