Honda will introduce electric and plug-in hybrid models by 2020, with the powertrain technology most likely to arrive on smaller cars, according to European marketing and sales boss Jean Marc Streng.
“We have to come with something else to drop emissions and this will come from hybrid and electric,” Streng said.
He added that a smaller petrol engine - a 1.0-litre unit in the new Civic hatchback - had been the priority until now. Talking about hybrid, Streng said sales were “very limited in Europe” and driven by sales incentives. “If you look at the potential of the market, it’s still not that important at the moment. It’s more of a priority for us to come with a petrol engine”, referencing the 1.0-litre turbo.
Autocar has previously reported that the 10th-generation Civic is due to get a hybrid version, with its project leader Mitsuru Kariya confirming the new platform accommodates such a powertrain. It does not, however, allow for an all-electric set-up. European chief Katsushi Inoue has also recognised the success of hybrids in Japan and the US, but was more cautious about their entry into Europe. “ There are lots of hybrids in Japan and the States . We’ll see if that movement comes to Europe.”
Meanwhile, the Honda Jazz is likely to be one of the first Hondas to receive an all-electric powertrain.
Streng also suggested that all low-emission powertrains would focus on its smaller cars. “Does a hybrid really make sense in a big SUV? I’d argue not.”
However, he acknowledged that by 2030, more than two-thirds of overall car sales will be electric or hybrid, adding that by 2020, “we should be in this area”.
Talking about Honda’s current success, Streng recognised the brand “has struggled over last few years”. Describing it as a “comeback”, he attributed the new Honda CR-V and Honda HR-V models as being crucial to its achievements, siting a 60% conquest rate for HR-V buyers. He added that the new Civic would attract a younger buyer explaining that the design is more “sporty and aggressive”.