Honda calls on government to support hybrids, reduce EV focus

Honda has called on the UK government to reduce its singular focus on electric cars and recognise the “important role” played by the latest hybrid models. 

In a sponsored post on the Conservative Home blog – presumably targeted with the hope of it being read by government figures – Honda Europe’s senior Vice President, Ian Howells, said a “multi-pathway approach” is needed to ensure the UK can progress to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. 

Howells calls for an approach “in which a broad range of technologies are used to deliver CO2 reductions quickly and effectively, while ensuring that personal mobility remains affordable and accessible to all. This is vital to the Government’s levelling up agenda and underpinning the fundamental principle of personal choice”.

He also states that Honda’s intention to also achieve carbon neutrality globally will see a mixture of battery electric models, hybrids and “in time” hydrogen and decarbonised liquid fuels to ensure options are available across a broad spectrum of the market. 

While acknowledging pure EVs will play a “significant role” in this approach with significant benefits to consumers, Howells claims they “are not a silver bullet”. 

“Challenges around affordability, infrastructure and technology limitations mean that the government cannot rely solely on electric vehicles to completely replace internal combustion engines by 2035, if it does not also intend to restrict consumer choice.

“An approach that relies only on expensive electric cars risks turning driving into a privilege only afforded to the wealthy, while pricing those who most need it out of personal mobility”. 

Howells cites the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre, which predicts that cost parity between EVs and petrol cars will not be reached by 2035 – with larger models and SUVs taking far longer. Further claims by the senior Honda executive include a charging infrastructure that is “unevenly spread across the country” causing inequalities in less well served areas such as the Midlands and the North, and limited off-street parking. 

Howells even claims that there are “not enough raw materials for a full shift to battery electric cars” citing limits on global cobalt supply. He also states that lithium-ion battery tech is “reaching the limits of power and performance” because simply installing larger batteries incurs weight and cost penalties. 

Honda has recently launched its first electric series production car, the E, which has a relatively modest claimed EV range of 125 miles. However, the firm also has the also-new (and more affordable) Jazz, which has moved to hybrid-only propulsion and is said to emit 30% less CO2 than its non-hybrid predecessor. Howells claims that “there remains scope for significant ongoing emission reductions” as hybrid tech evolves further. 

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