Honda e Prototype on the wish-list for Honda Australia
HONDA'S show-stealing electric hatchback could be headed Down Under.
The brand's local director Stephen Collins says the cute city car, which will go on sale in Europe early next year, could spearhead a renewed focus on electric and hybrid vehicles.
"We would love that car and we are working on whether we can make the numbers stack up. It's a space we pioneered. We got out for pure business reasons, however things change. Globally we have a lot of options to apply that technology," he says.
Honda plans to use some form of electric power in 25 per cent of its local line-up by 2025, despite the lack of government incentives to reduce emissions.
The return to hybrids is a U-turn for the company, which dropped mainstream petrol-electric vehicles in its local line-up years ago.
Collins says the first hybrid will arrive late this year in the form of the Accord hybrid sedan.
He says sales of the Accord hybrid will be small but the brand is also looking at bringing in hybrid or electric versions of the rest of its range as each model is renewed.
"Our projection is that in 2025, 25 per cent of our volume will be electrified in some way, shape or form, whether that's hybrid or battery electric. It's definitely a space that we need to re-enter and we will," he says.
That local target is well behind Honda Europe's goal of 100 per cent, a discrepancy that clearly illustrates the effect of legislation in both markets.
Collins acknowledges that buyer acceptance of hybrids and EVs is very low in Australia but is confident things will change over the next few years.
He says the regulatory changes that are driving growth of EVs overseas will eventually happen in Australia, while customer acceptance is slowly growing. Increased volumes of EVs overseas will also help to bring down the cost of technology, making hybrids and EVs more attractive to potential customers.
"When you've got emerging markets like India and others clearly that's going to bring the cost down," he says.
He expects the government focus on vehicle emissions targets will ramp up after the federal election.
"It was progressing well then it all came to a stop and won't restart for at least another six to eight months," he says.
The uncertainty made it difficult for the industry to develop an emissions reduction plan.
"When we don't know what the targets are, when the timing is, it's very difficult for us to be planning. All we call for, whether it's Labor or Liberal, is certainty," he says.
Aside from a new Accord and a mid-life facelift for the Civic, 2019 will be a quiet year for the brand in Australia. As such, Collins is expecting a significant dip in volumes from last year, which was the brand's best sales result in a decade.