Honda CEO Trash Talks Toyota Prius
The Wall Street Journal carries a rare interview with Honda CEO Takeo Fukui. Ever the cagey character, Fukui claims to be completely uninterested in the fact that his company just passed Chrysler for the number four slot in the U.S. sales race. "It doesn't really matter if you come in fourth or fifth or first. What's important for us is that our production is going at full capacity and production is balanced with sales." Yeah right, the former Honda motorcycle race team manager doesn't care about the score. When the subject is the delicate matter of how Toyota pulled the green carpet out from under Honda's environmental image, Fukui turns a bit more… combative. "Honda's image was better but has evened out with [Toyota] because of the strong image of one single model, the Prius, which Honda feels is a problem. Next year, we will come up with a dedicated hybrid vehicle. We feel this model will have to overwhelm and overtake Prius. That is key for us." ( The hyrdogen fuel cell-powered Clarity? Not so much.) Ladies and gentlemen, start your electric engines!
Honda dumped all it's eggs in one basket(FCX). They have nothing electric or for the plug in hybrid front. They were first(Insight), now they are last. Coming soon: Volt Plug in Prius Plug in Escape The competition: Mitsubishi MiEV Nissan EV Subaru R1e, G4e The plug in just seems like a stop gap and a pacifier/insurance/security blanket initially until the range is increased in all electric. An all electric Volt to cut costs and compete on both fronts?!
Honda is too busy making everything else. Also they tend to lead a market, than sell on their name and coast. For example., their outboard engines blew away the competition ten years ago. Now several companies make great four stroke outboards. Ditto for their generators. Ditto for their lawnmowers. Is a 1.5L four banger from 1992 that much different from 2008? My dads base 1992 Civic gets 53MPG highway!!!(standard, no mods, synthetic oil, yes he babies it, yes it is a smaller and less safe car) Honda are good at engineering but they do it in spurts. If they had half the passion that (say) BMW do they could produce a dominant product to beat the Prius. They just never thought that the Hybrid market would hit so fast. Clarity??? Come on, everybody knows that Hydrogen is decades away, if that soon. The main thing that Honda makes is money.
Repeat after me, Hydrogen is an energy store not an energy source. You get out less energy than you put into making it. Its this return on energy investment that makes Petrol, Diesel and LPG such excellent fuels. Given we are just on the limits of leccy generating power now where is the extra power for volume manufacturing of Hydrogen going to come from exactly ?
I agree with the comments about Priora on the road only having a driver and (maybe) one passenger, thus the waste of capacity. I'd love to have an Insight for most of my daily commuting, especially when I have to do those 40-mile round trips to the other end of town once or twice a week. But in any given week, 0 to 20% of my driving time is spent transporting the guys and gals to lunch, hauling mulch, yard equipment, paint, or chemicals, and so forth. For as long as I like to keep a vehicle (6 years or so), I figured that the Prius would serve me well for 99% of my driving, wheras an Insight would serve me well for 80% of my driving. Mathematically, the Prius may not make sense with those numbers, but to me, it was worth the extra money, especially when considering the cost of rentals or the intangible cost of imposing on friends or family for use of their larger vehicles. As for the Insight, which I did like...I think Honda passed up a great opportunity. 1. Icky colors. Pea-green? The red was nice, but it took them way too long to offer blue. 2. IMA only shut off at stops if you didn't use AC. Hypermilers on Greenhybrid.com would get as much as 80-100 MPG and some would pride themselves on driving with no aircon. Okay, the milage was great, but who wants to arrive all stinky? 3. I and everybody I knew hated the rear tire skirts. Yeah, same as on the EV-1. 4. Little-to-no trunk space. 5. Honda dealers never carried stock. I wanted to test drive one, but was told at three dealerships, I'd have to make a down payment and have one delivered....say WHAT? 6. Honda should never have allowed their Insight to appear in that depressing enviro-disaster movie a few years ago. You know, the one that changed the "Global Warming" term to "Climate Change." I think that flick was damaging, especially since they used the icky pea-green Insight. It relegated the Insight to the "greenie-freak" category.