Honda Civic Diesel
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) revealed that diesel car sales fell by 17.1% last year, down to 1,065,879 units from 1,285,188 in 2016.
The SMMT has attributed this decline to “anti-diesel messages” from the Government.
However, Hodgetts has said that diesel is still expected to make up close to 40% of all Civic sales in the UK, even though consumers have shied away from the fuel.
“We’ve really done well with the petrol Civic and, to be fair, we’ve really taken some ex-diesel customers back across to petrol,” he said.
“But there’s still a market for diesel, so the Civic diesel will really help us get overall Civic sales up.
“We will aim roughly for that sector average, which is not far short of 40% of diesel. That means going slightly more to the corporate sector than it does for our petrol mix.
“But we’ve done pretty well this year with both retail and corporate, and our overall sales have held up pretty well, despite the issue with diesel."
Referring to the “anti-diesel” messages from the Government, Hodgetts said there was a need for the discussion to be “based on the facts”.
He explained: “We need to balance the debate about the overall situation. As we know, diesels are particularly good for certain driving environments and long-distance drivers, while petrol may well be better in some urban environments.
“There's a place for diesel, and it’s proven to be the least CO2-emitting technology by some way.
“You can only bring on electrified technology at a certain pace, and the bigger thing to me is not just our ability to engineer those solutions, but to give solutions that customers can actually afford to buy.”
Honda still hopes that hydrogen will be the “ultimate solution”, although Hodgetts admits that there’s a great deal of work yet to be done to bring hydrogen vehicles to the fore.
He said: “It’s a complete catch-22: the cost of the technology with the very small volumes is so high that there aren't many cars being produced. The manufacturers may say that there’s no hydrogen infrastructure, but who’s going to introduce that infrastructure if it isn’t the automotive sector?
“I think that Honda had the correct vision 10 to 15 years ago to start developing the technology. It’s very expensive and it’s not going to be quick to get it to a commercially viable product range, but we still feel that as an ideal solution, hydrogen is the endgame.”