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Honda keen to lead local fuel cell sector

Honda's FCX Clarity, powered only by fuel cell might make its way down under.

Only 100 of Honda's fuel-cell cars are presently confirmed for buyers in the US, but the head of Honda Australia, Yasuhide Mizuno, is keen to see it in Australian showrooms too.

The FCX was displayed as a concept at last year's Melbourne Motor Show but now, with production about to begin, Mizuno is planning a local future for it.

“We want to bring it, if the research and engineering allow it,” Mizuno says. “If the infrastructure is set up, then we have some opportunity to sell it here."

“Now we are just considering. We are talking with the product planning team at Honda headquarters.”

Mizuno says there are problems but, just as Honda Australia made an early dive into hybrid cars with the Insight, he is keen.

“Production capacity is one of the issues,” he says. “Specification is another. Australia is quite a tough country, so we have to consider the weather.”

While Honda Australia is chasing the FCX, Mizuno confirms a big year in 2008 with new models.

“This year is the Accord, Accord Euro and the Jazz,” he says. “Also there will be a minor model change for the Legend.”

The Accord will hit the road in February, while Honda is forecasting 12,000 sales for the Jazz as it aims for another record showroom result.

Mizuno says Honda Australia is benefiting from importing cars from Thailand, which has a free trade agreement with Australia, though it has to pay the bills in Thai Baht through US Dollars.

More cars will be coming from 2009 as production of the CR-V and the Civic is transferred to a new Thai plant.

He says the exchange rate is a problem for Honda Australia, but he has no plans to change sourcing or to go to the US for the Accord.

“The Thai Baht is still very strong,” he says. “But mostly the Japanese manufacturer can enjoy the declining Yen and the high Aussie Dollars.”