Honda has called on the UK government to reduce its singular focus on electric cars and recognise the “important role” played by the latest hybrid models.
While acknowledging pure EVs will play a “significant role” in this approach with significant benefits to consumers, Howells claims they “are not a silver bullet”.
“Challenges around affordability, infrastructure and technology limitations mean that the government cannot rely solely on electric vehicles to completely replace internal combustion engines by 2035, if it does not also intend to restrict consumer choice.
“An approach that relies only on expensive electric cars risks turning driving into a privilege only afforded to the wealthy, while pricing those who most need it out of personal mobility”.
Howells cites the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre, which predicts that cost parity between EVs and petrol cars will not be reached by 2035 - with larger models and SUVs taking far longer. Further claims by the senior Honda executive include a charging infrastructure that is “unevenly spread across the country” causing inequalities in less well served areas such as the Midlands and the North, and limited off-street parking.
Howells even claims that there are “not enough raw materials for a full shift to battery electric cars” citing limits on global cobalt supply. He also states that lithium-ion battery tech is “reaching the limits of power and performance” because simply installing larger batteries incurs weight and cost penalties.
Honda has recently launched its first electric series production car, the E, which has a relatively modest claimed EV range of 125 miles. However, the firm also has the also-new (and more affordable) Jazz, which has moved to hybrid-only propulsion and is said to emit 30% less CO2 than its non-hybrid predecessor. Howells claims that “there remains scope for significant ongoing emission reductions” as hybrid tech evolves further.
Howells also cites the development of decarbonised liquid fuels, produced from renewable energy sources, as one which could reduce the CO2 produced by hybrids significantly in future.