Honda Malaysia has gone all in on hybrid technology, having sold locally-assembled petrol-electric models on our shores since 2012. The company continues to offer these vehicles in the form of the City e:HEV RS, which will gain a hatchback variant early next year.
What it hasn’t done is introduce any fully-electric models, and it looks to stay that way at least in the next few years. During a press conference after the launch of the City Hatchback today, Honda Malaysia said that it is sticking to hybrid vehicles at the moment as part of its electrification strategy. “At the moment we feel that hybrids [are the way to go for] electrification and we are focusing on hybrid models in the near future,” said executive coordinator Yujiro Sugino.
President and COO Sarly Adle Sarkum appeared to hedge those comments, saying that the recent timing of the government’s proposal to eliminate all taxes and duties on electric vehicles hasn’t given the company enough time to formulate an electric vehicle strategy for the market.
“The government policy has just been released [and] it’s still in [its infancy],” said president and COO Sarly Adle Sarkum. “It’s not that we’re not taking the plunge, but we’re looking closely [at everything], including official details. Now, we’re following up with the government to see if there are any opportunities that we can take action on moving forward.”
At the moment, Honda sells just one electric vehicle globally, the Honda e. The five-door hatchback is only available in Japan and Europe and is positioned as a fashionable urban runabout, offering a range of only 222 km on the WLTP cycle. Buyers get a choice of either 100 kW (136 PS) or 113 kW (154 PS) from the single electric motor, which produces 315 Nm of torque and is juiced by a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery.
Although the e isn’t being brought in through official means by Honda Malaysia, you can buy one via grey importer Weststar Motors. Mind you, it isn’t cheap – a UK-spec top-of-the-range Advance model recently sold for RM210,000. Although the price will definitely come down with zero taxes and duties, the e would still have a hard time competing with the recently-launched Hyundai Kona Electric and the forthcoming Ora Good Cat – both of which have vastly superior range figures at attractive prices.
More impressive from a range standpoint are the e:NS1 and e:NP1. Based on the new third-generation HR-V, these B-segment crossovers are claimed to be able to travel a massive 500 km between charges. These cars, however, will only be offered in China and are unlikely to be sold outside of the Middle Kingdom.
At the very least, Honda’s e:HEV hybrid technology is as close as you can get to an electric vehicle without ditching the internal combustion engine completely. The electric motor powers the car most of the time, drawing energy from a petrol-powered generator. The latter only drives the wheels directly at higher speeds (where it is most efficient) or when assisting the motor under hard acceleration.
The tech allows users to experience the feel of driving a full electric vehicle without range anxiety. Expect it to make its way to more models in Malaysia, including the forthcoming new Civic and HR-V (in fact, the latter can only be had as a hybrid in Thailand).
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