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Despite no longer chasing sales volume as part of its shift to a leaner agency model in Australia, the local Honda operation says it intends to offer hybrid models that can rival Toyota on the value front.
Honda Australia has gone on the record before saying that every new-generation model it launches in Australia will have a hybrid drivetrain option, but we now have more of an idea of what the brand has in mind.
Honda Australia’s managing director, Stephen Collins, said in comments to the media that it was the brand's intention to offer hybrid models that were competitive in value to the successful Toyotas.
He said the brand’s research indicated that value was key to success when it came to hybrid variants as it has been for Toytota.
“They’ve got to be priced right,” he said, “we have to get the economics of that correct.”
The real challenge for Honda going forward will be the hybrid RAV4, which starts at $40,070 for the hybrid “eFour” GX. Honda Australia is yet to launch a CR-V hybrid despite such a variant being available overseas as the local-market version of the key mid-sizer is sourced from Thailand where the hybrid variant is not built.
Honda was keen to point out that after its new business model was in place, it would explore the ability to source more vehicles and even “other product lines” from Japan as well as push its brand “upmarket”.
While Honda Australia has thus far passed on the new hybrid Honda Jazz and all-electric Honda e, the next all-new opportunity will be the just-revealed HR-V. On top of a radical styling overhaul, the new HR-V will be available with an e:HEV hybrid variant, as well as a more traditional 1.5-litre petrol and CVT combination. Full specs have not been revealed, but Honda Australia has said the new small SUV will arrive in “the next 12 months.”
Other hybrid opportunities potentially open to the brand from its Japanese market range include hybrid versions of the new Odyssey (which will be skipped for the facelifted people mover’s launch in Australia), the aforementioned CR-V and Jazz (although the brand is unlikely to re-consider its position on these two any time soon), and the new-generation Legend flagship luxury sedan (given the Accord’s ultra-low numbers, we’d also doubt this one).
Other alternate propulsion in Honda’s international range includes the battery-electric Honda e small car, and the Prius-like Clarity which is available as either a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or hydrogen fuel-cell (FCEV).
Honda's plans also indicate that the 11th-generation Civic hatch will be offered with a hybrid powertrain to take on the popular Corolla Hybrid, although the sedan version recently unveiled in prototype form will no longer be offered.