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Honda steeped in Green for the long haul
 Date: October 22, 2009 11:15
 Submitted by:  JeffX
 Source: TOV News
 Credibility Rating: Not Specified

Honda's message at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show was very clear, and this message was reinforced by CEO Takanobu Ito during a Q&A session that was held for North American media at Honda's headquarters in Tokyo this afternoon. The topics ranged from Honda's position on BEVs (Battery-powered Electric Vehicles) to their plans for future sports cars, but for the most part the conversations always circled back to Honda's view of eco-technologies: Hybrid Electric Vehicles in the near- to mid-term, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the long run.

Highlights from the Q&A
  • If you were holding onto a sliver of hope that the V10 supercar project would be someday resurrected, you might want to sit down. Based upon today's conversation, the V10 supercar project has virtually zero chance of resurrection. We were even told (in a separate conversation) that Ito-san himself was responsible for cancelling the V-10 supercar project. Any sort of future super sportscar would only be considered once Honda has cleared several development hurdles for environmental technology, including hybrid technology suitable for larger vehicles, plug-in hybrid technology, and hydrogen battery fuel cells. "Once we come up with these new, innovative technologies that we are researching - once we have (an) abundance of cash on hand - I would definitely love to see Honda develop a sports car which would symbolize these technologies", said Ito. "And, once that day comes, the sportscar will NOT be something like Toyota announced yesterday, but instead it will be environmentally friendly (while) at the same time enjoying outstanding performance. I'd love to do that."

  • I asked about the status of A-VTEC and i-DTEC. I think the question was interpreted differently than I intended because Ito-san spoke mostly about how VTEC technology could be used to reduce pumping losses during cylinder idling and regenerative braking functions.

  • A followup question from a journalist in the audience specifically asked about Honda's plans for diesel. Essentially, Honda has shelved their plans for introducing diesel in the US, and there were several factors involved. First off, development was delayed by about a year due to difficulties meeting emissions regulations. Honda resolved the difficulties, but the solutions were costly. Faced with these costs, Honda's board of directors ultimately gave up on the idea of offering diesel technology in the US. However, Honda are continuing to work on the technology in hopes of making the costs more reasonable.

  • Though it has been reported that Honda has changed their tune on BEVs, Ito-san makes it very clear that Honda's position remains consistent. That position is the notion that Hydrogen is the long term solution, and they are dedicated towards working to that end. Honda's position on BEVs has softened a bit in that they are recognizing that BEVs are suitable for a limited set of applications involving short-range urban driving environments. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle development will remain the primary focus.

  • When asked if there would be other sporty models coming forth to replace "accessible" sports models such as the Integra/RSX and S2000, the response from Ito-san was that the CR-Z would be the answer to that question and there were "no other plans for the time being, but yes I would like to be able to consider such possibilities".

  • I asked Ito-san how Honda's sharpened focus on environmental technology fit in with the vision for Acura as a brand and the luxury market in general. The answer was that Acura would be re-focused on delivering the performance levels sought by premium/luxury car buyers, and these performance levels would be coupled with strong environmental performance. In a later conversation, Ito-san admitted that there's a "certain level of confusion" in the existing Acura lineup, and they would work to fix that.

  • Ito-san said they Honda are open to the possibility of combining forces with a like-minded automaker, but given the fundamental differences in corporate philosophies that currently exist, it is not a likely scenario.

  • A journalist asked if there were any regrets for Honda's withdrawal from F1 and Ito-san's answer was simply "No Regrets".

Last edited by JeffX on October 22, 2009 11:29

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