Automotive

Published on October 25th, 2017 | by Subhash Nair

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Why Honda’s Booth @ Tokyo Motor Show Was All About Electrification This Year

The Tokyo Motor Show is one of the most relevant ones to Malaysians. It only occurs once every 2 years and features just about every Japanese manufacturer shows where they’ll be taking their brand. As the no.1 non-national brand in Malaysia, Honda’s showing at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show (TMS) is particularly important.

Honda’s 2030 vision is to deliver the cleanest and safest cars on the planet By 2030, they want ⅔ of their global sales to consist of electrified vehicles.

This of course means looking more at alternatives to the internal combustion engine. Given that they’ve delivered 580,000 cars in Asia & Oceania this year alone, it’s clear this strategy will involve changing how people in our region perceive hybrid cars by showing us their commitment to the technology.

Fittingly, Honda’s stage at the 2017 TMS had nothing but electrified cars. In fact, the three cars that took centre stage were all electric concepts that you can read about here. Honda also previewed the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and displayed the NSX and Legend, which are both hybrid vehicles.

Honda’s strategy seems to be to capture three types of customers over time. We’re sure there are many educated Malaysians who understand the importance of reducing carbon emissions but can’t afford to change the way they drive. For them, the standard Hybrid models are being offered. These already exist in Malaysia in the form of the Jazz and City Sport Hybrid. Most of the hybrids at the Honda booth fit this bill. They can even scale it up to mid sized cars with their i-MMD technology and to large/performance cars with their SH-AWD technology.

The next step is to capture those who want an electric vehicle but can’t afford to lose the convenience of a car with an internal combustion engine. For these customers, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are being developed. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is one such vehicle.

It was shown here today and you can read our thoughts on the car here.

Unlike many other PHEVs, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid emphasises its electric drive components, with the internal combustion engine taking on a secondary role in power delivery and a primary role in power generation for the batteries.

Another step is to push for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs). The technology is already here and proven. It’s almost magical. You put in hydrogen and you get motion and water. These are very capbale motors and they ought to be the future of the car.

However, the infrastructure and confidence in these powertrains are still a few years away. Plus, these systems weigh a LOT. In the US, pilot programmes are already being conducted.

The final step is to go full electric. There’s a version of the Clarity being developed to this end. However, the major stumbling block here is just how long it takes to charge electric vehicles. That being said, the fact that Honda is exploring the advantages of Electric Vehicles with their three small concepts shows that there are some aspects could change the way we treat our cars entirely.

The NeuV concept, for instance, allows car owners to let their cars work for them through ride-hailing services. Most owners leave their cars parked more than 90% of the time, so having an electric vehicle than can go out and earn money for its own maintainance, before returning to charge itself, will change the way we treat electric cars. That though, is a very far way off. But with autonomous driving technology already being put into production cars, Honda’s 2030 goal doesn’t seem far fetched at all.


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