Honda Motor Company has set a target to introduce hybrid technology in India that would help it meet new mileage and emission norms till the time the country is ready to host electric vehicles.
Honda Cars India, the second largest Japanese car brand in India, is the only large automobile company which was yet to announce its approach to the government's ambition of shifting to green mobility. Rivals such as Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Toyota Kirloskar have already announced their roadmap for the future.
Even as Honda uses a hybrid system for mid and large-sized vehicles, it is working to make the system compact to be able to run it on small cars such as those sold in India.
Takahiro Hachigo, President and Representative Director, Honda Motor Company, said, “We have set a goal to electrify two-thirds of our global automobile unit sales by 2030. In light of the required infrastructure and how people use automobiles, we believe hybrid technology is, at present, the most effective way for us to comply with CAFÉ (corporate average fuel economy) standards. Therefore, we will electrify our products mainly with hybrids.”
At present, the Accord luxury sedan is the only car in Honda’s India line-up with hybrid technology. The Accord hybrid, which is priced at Rs 43 lakh (ex-showroom), uses the same iMMD technology which Honda intends to use for other cars in its line-up.
“To this end Honda will expand the use of its iMMD (intelligent multi-mode drive) to our entire line up. In addition to the use of this technology in mid and large sized vehicles, we developed a new more compact iMMD for smaller sizes. This technology will be adapted by the all-new Fit, which will be the exhibited at the Tokyo Motor Show,” he stated.
Fit is the international name of the Honda Jazz, a premium hatchback, sold by it in India. Through mass adoption of hybrid technology, Honda hopes to reduce development and acquisition cost of this hybrid technology by 25 percent.
With regards to the push towards green mobility, the automobile industry is split right through. The first group comprising Tata Motors and M&M is pushing for battery electric vehicle (BEV) technology, whereas the second group comprising Maruti Suzuki, Volvo, Toyota and Honda is cheering for hybrid technology.
The government is firmly behind BEV technology given its advantages such as reduction in import of fossil fuels and zero pollution. The Finance Ministry has therefore proposed to reduce GST on BEV to five percent from 12 percent. Hybrids are taxed (GST + cess) at 28 percent (less than 4 meters) and 43 percent (the rest), which is on par with regular petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.
In North America, Honda is partnering General Motors to find EV solutions, and will jointly develop mass-production battery EVs with local JVs in China. In Europe, Honda will launch the Honda e and targets 100 percent electrification by 2025.