Honda bets house on HR-V, hybrids and hydrogen
02 December 2015
Honda is to focus on new, economical, small turbocharged petrol engines in the next few years, with hybrid and hydrogen-powered models following, as it gets back up to speed in fleet after a quiet few years, UK managing director Philip Crossman told BusinessCar at an event celebrating 50 years of Honda in the country.
Leading the charge to re-establish the manufacturer with fleets is the HR-V small crossover, which Crossman sees as critically important for bringing many new customers to the brand: "The HR-V will be a golden moment. Absolute right car, absolutely the right market. The demand for that car globally is huge."
While the HR-V, already on sale, is likely to see demand outstrip supply for the next two or three years, Crossman views the new Jazz, also on sale, as another important fleet player, having proved particularly popular in the public sector in the past, with the more established CR-V performing strongly with business users too.
Despite this, the company is looking to secure steady, sustainable growth to make Honda a more mainstream name in the fleet world, "rather than just blast all our cars out", added Crossman.
While the brand may have resisted turbocharged engines for many years, its next-generation motors will be small turbocharged petrols, according to the Honda boss, ahead of a shift to hybrid power. A new 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor already features in the rapid Civic Type-R, with 1.0- and 1.5-litre
engines set to arrive in the new Civic in 2017. A hybrid NSX supercar is also due for early 2016 at the other end of the range.
"Hybrid will feature in the future, but we're convinced about the end game being hydrogen power - absolutely no doubt," Crossman added, with the brand's fuel cell-powered FCV set to arrive in Europe in 2017. A new Jazz hybrid is also likely to go on sale by 2020, according to Crossman, which should raise the Jazz's economy far above the figure of 55.4-56.5mpg for the 1.3-litre petrol.
This won't be the first hybrid version of Honda's small car, but with the previous model offering 104g/km CO2 emissions and 62.8mpg economy, the new version will have to be much more frugal to win over fleet users and counteract the Jazz's BIK-inflating high list prices. Honda head of car Phil Webb states that the Jazz has been "absolutely tremendous regarding sales in both retail and fleet", emphasising that the company is looking to boost its presence in both markets.