More EVs a given, says Honda CEO, but what about sports cars?
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Driven sits down with Honda Motor Co. President and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, to talk EVs, market demands and sportscars of the future.
At a global level, Honda Motor Co. CEO Takahiro Hachigo stated on Wednesday at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show that the company is aiming to electrify two-thirds of its global automotive output by 2030.
Speaking at a post-motor show press conference, Hachigo-san provided further information, suggesting of the 65 per cent of vehicles that would fit into this category, 15% will be zero emission vehicles (battery-electric and fuel-cell models), while 50 per cent will be plug-in hybrids.
“We definitely need to respond to rapid change in our industry and establish where to next,” he said.
“There are three challenges to creating hybrid and battery-electric technology; establishing proven technology in the first instance, reducing the costs of such development, and then developing infrastructure.
“But the final judgement on what sort of solution works and where, needs to be made by customers. Deploying the [fuel cell] Clarity in the Asia-Oceania region, for example, will be difficult without government subsidies, so we need to keep an eye on specific trends.”
Currently the Clarity FCV is available to lease in Japan and North America. The just-announced PHEV version of the Clarity will, for now, also only be available in these two markets.
With the advent of the Sports EV Concept at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, it would seem that Honda isn’t intent on just focusing on urban mobility in a conventional sense.
However, and unlike the company’s official line with regard to the Sports EV Concept’s sister car, the Urban EV Concept hatch (which it says will go into production in as little as two years), there has been no word on whether we’re likely to see a production sports coupe.
Hachigo-san did give a few cryptic clues about what might lie ahead with regard to future performance car development though.
“We talk at Honda about ‘the joy of expanding life’s potential’ as well as ‘the joy of driving’. Obviously the second part of this relates heavily to sports cars. As you will know, we have brought several sports cars back that, until recently, had been discontinued; the NSX, the Civic Type R and – for the Japanese market – the S660.
“So, for these cars, which we have already launched, our number one priority is to continue to make them a success in the market. As to increasing our sportscar portfolio with future models? Well, I hope we can challenge the idea of the sports car in different ways,” he says.
“I am a sports car lover and previously I have worked in Honda Research & Development, where I know there are many sports car lovers. We can go ahead and develop something like this, but the big question remains: if we devote ourselves to developing a new sports car, would it sell?
“We need clear enthusiasm to proceed. We need the regions in which we sell cars to support a sports car. These factors make it much more difficult to predict a development timeline for anything like this,” he concludes.
Long story short? We’re convinced there is something – possibly not unlike the Sports EV Concept – already blueprinted and ready to go. The company is just waiting for the right time.
Regardless of the shape of any future sports-themed metal from Honda, like all its technological developments, the carmaker appears to be happy to release any such model to its own schedule.
But whatever eventuates and when, it seems certain to have a plug attached.