Honda is charging into Frankfurt next month, bringing with it two electrified concept models — though at least one seems certain to go into production.
The Japanese automaker was one of the first to bring hybrids to market but has been slow to embrace more advanced battery-based technology. But that’s about to change, CEO Takahiro Hachigo pronouncing that his goal is to generate fully two-thirds of Honda’s sales from battery and hydrogen-powered models by 2030.
Both of the models coming to the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show are, for now, targeted specifically at the European market, Honda says, but they should give us some hints about the company’s broader electrification strategy.
(Mini set to unveil new EV in Frankfurt. Click Here to check it out.)
The Honda CR-V Hybrid is officially billed as a “hybrid prototype,” but, as we have learned over the years, the third-largest Japanese carmaker routinely teases planned products by showing them off in concept form shortly before we actually see them go into production. Think about the roll-out process for the latest versions of the Civic, Accord and Odyssey, among others.
What’s unclear is whether the CR-V Hybrid prototype coming to Frankfurt will be the same concept model first seen at the Shanghai Motor Show earlier in the year, or if it will be updated to some degree. The Chinese prototype featured the same basic driveline as the Accord Sport Hybrid: twin electric motors drawing power from a small lithium-ion battery pack and paired with a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four gas engine.
Meanwhile, Honda is being especially tight with details about the Urban EV concept that CEO Hachigo will unveil during the maker’s news conference in Frankfurt on Sept. 12.
Honda previously used the “Urban” designation for a concept SUV it revealed in Frankfurt two years ago. Could the new model be a crossover, as well, this time relying on the sort of battery-electric driveline that many European cities are expected to require in the not-too-distant future? France, the U.K. and Norway all have laid out plans to ban the sale of internal combustion-powered vehicles over the next decade or so, and even Germany, home of the Autobahn is considering that strategy. Individual cities could go a step further and ban even existing IC-powered models from entering urban cores.
It’s all but certain the Honda Urban EV Concept will use a lithium-ion battery pack but that leaves a lot of questions open. What sort of range would it be targeting, for example? While there’s an industry-wide push for electric vehicles getting 200 miles or more per charge, some advocates believe there will still be an urban market for vehicles in the 100-mile range. Indeed, that’s about what is being targeted by the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo concept Daimler is debuting in Frankfurt.
(Click Herefor a look at the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept.)
In the U.S., Honda recently launched three versions of its Clarity, including a hydrogen fuel-cell model, a plug-in hybrid and a pure battery-electric. Those products are part of “a long-term vision to make sustainable, electrified vehicles true volume vehicles for Honda,” Jim Burrell, head of environmental business development for American Honda, explained.
The approach taken with Clarity, and the fact that Honda will show both a pure EV and a hybrid in Frankfurt, underscores the company’s belief that, at least the near-term, there appears to be “no silver bullet” that can satisfy the needs of all motorists seeking a clean alternative to gas and diesel power. It will require a mix of different alternatives for the foreseeable future.
(Click Here to find out why nine major automakers are sitting out the Frankfurt show this year.)