Honda is experiencing a period of profound renewal, with the Japanese brand that has decided to keep the focus of electrification in the hybrid state thanks to technology e: HEV which was first launched on the new Jazz and will soon hit the road with the new generation of HR-V. A very specific strategy that will allow the brand to renew its range and look to the future with a renewed ambition. To tell us about the objectives and the path of the brand, Yusuke Kondo, president of Honda Motor Europe Italia whom we interviewed exclusively.
How is Honda’s path evolving?
“Our strategy is a transition to electrification, we will no longer sell cars with traditional engines, only fueled by diesel or petrol. Our focus on the hybrid materializes in the e: HEV technology, a system that enhances the pleasure and simplicity of driving, particularly focused on use in the city. An element that we believe can perfectly meet the current needs of customers. “
You have focused on the hybrid but in the range there is also a full electric with a unique style.
“Honda e is a very particular model, it has a limited range that makes it perfect for urban use, with a retro look that at the same time makes it modern and captivating. It was not meant to be a large volume product but more like a niche car, for people who are attracted to a certain type of car. I believe that thanks to its design and its unmistakable style, the Italian public enjoyed Honda e very much. “
Could the relationship with Red Bull in F1 have positive implications from a sales point of view?
“I think so, but not only for what concerns Formula 1. We have collaborations with Red Bull in different competitions and in different fields. Certainly the partnership in F1 is the most important and I think it can have a positive impact in the long term, with an important echo for our brand. “
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After suffering from the Coronavirus, the market was weakened by the shortage of chips. At what point is Honda?
“We too have been affected by this chip shortage, as has been the case with other automakers. There were several problems with supplies and logistics. We have no intention of chasing the expected volumes but we will improve the supply chains in order to be able to respond to these tensions in the market. “
Will you also bring electrification to the two-wheeled range?
“We already have some electric scooters in some markets other than Europe. We are currently evaluating the development of some bikes. There will be important news soon. Thanks to the consortium that was created in Japan among the main engine manufacturers for the development of batteries, I believe that an important boost can be given to technological advancement. Thanks to economies of scale, it will be possible to offer different products to customers but which will be compatible with them, with investments that are not too expensive for the brands. “
Is refinancing incentives a priority?
“I believe that the incentives are necessary to support the entire Italian market. As for Honda, the purchase bonuses did not generate real sales benefits. I hope that we focus on more concrete aid because the stop and continuous refinancing do not generate real benefits for the sector. “
What is Honda’s budget for 2021 and what are the objectives for 2022?
“This will be a very difficult year for us because we have to fill a gap with the other manufacturers as regards the renewal of the range. It is a process that we have started and that is taking shape in recent months but in 2022 we will have, for example, the new generation of Honda HR-V, it will be a full hybrid with a well-defined style that allows us to have a very ambitious target in terms of sales. We want to sell 10,000 units over the next year. I think it is a complete car from several points of view. It has a well-defined style and this electrified architecture that does not compromise the interior space. It is a compact SUV but it really boasts a great roominess. “
Should we expect a second electric? What will be the fate of Civic Type R?
“We are working on an electric model that can appeal more to the masses. The sporty soul is central to Honda and therefore we are looking carefully at the next generation which obviously will have the Type R version. Meanwhile, we are already working towards the future and we will see in which direction the market will take us. “