Honda is moving its European models away from being powered entirely by internal combustion far more quickly than it had previously announced. The carmaker will shift to electrified powertrains — hybrids, in this case — across its model range in as little as two years. The following is from Honda’s 2020 European Environmental Report:
The company is [...] committed to accelerating initiatives towards a zero-emission society by actively promoting the effective use of renewable energy, realising Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV), with a shift to total electrification of its mainstream car range in Europe by the end of 2022.
In the exhaustive and thorough report, Honda details the new direction it is taking to meet upcoming emissions standards overseas. It seems the carmaker will get ahead of the ban on internal-combustion engines in the United Kingdom, set to take effect in 2030. The ban, however, makes allowances for hybrid drivetrains through 2035.
Of course, all major automakers must set product plans years — or decades — in advance, but the announcement was unexpected given Honda’s previous timeline, which projected the shift would happen in 2025. Honda is cutting three years from that timeline!
It’s a bold move given the modest sales of the Honda E in Europe, but the carmaker is undaunted and this announcement indicates it is all-in on EVs. Of course, this does not mean that Honda will suddenly drop all ICE production and be reborn as an all-electric marque amidst the thunder and lightning of a Zapdos’s down-stroke. But it does mean that current production vehicles will transition to hybrids at a faster pace.
Leading that lap will be the HR-V, followed by the Civic — and a new Honda Jazz will debut exclusively as a hybrid in Europe. The Jazz will get a newly developed e:HEV system, made up of two compact electric motors connected to a 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC engine. These attach to a lithium-ion battery and a fixed-gear transmission puts the power down. I think it’s obvious this should have been called the e-VTEC, and not just because that means I could make two Pokemon references. Although, mostly for that reason alone.
The accelerated pace Honda has set for itself overseas indicates that at some point it may plan to do the same in the States. How much or how little success the Honda E would enjoy in our market is anybody’s guess, but given the popularity of the other models, it is possible that if Honda stopped selling ICE versions altogether, Americans would buy the hybrids. That would be a bold move, indeed.