Director of Honda Australia Stephen Collins has said that the Japanese carmaker has no plans to bring its Urban EV concept car to Australia.
The ‘retro’ all electric vehicle was first revealed at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, is not quite as big as the carmaker’s Jazz hatchback – and there are divided opinions over the funky, boxy design of the EV hatchback.
Still, the Japanese company has announced it will start producing the Urban EV with a view to sales starting next year. But not in Australia, as it turns out.
Why? Because, as Collins told Go Auto, in Australia, the ‘low’ demand for EVs warrants a ‘conservative approach’.
“We’re working on our whole electric vehicle (EV) strategy, not just that particular car,” he said.
“We’re taking a more conservative approach, mainly because the underlying demand [for EVs in Australia] is still very, very low.”
The reasons cited to Go Auto include low registrations numbers of EVs against internal combustion engine cars – and the fact that financially, the car maker is ‘not willing to take a risk’.
With a distinct lack of government policy to encourage increased uptake of EVs in Australia, this is not surprising, although other brands such as Hyundai, Nissan, Kia, and Renault are launching EV vehicles here over the next 12 months.
Honda has tried selling hybrids here in the past. “Five or six years ago we had a whole suite of hybrids, and to be honest, we didn’t get a lot of traction with them – mainly because the underlying consumer demand was very small,” Collins told Car Advice.
Personally, Collins has said an EV is ‘high on his wish list’ – but unless EV sales promised to be money-earners, Honda is not interested.
“I think wherever there is that opportunity, and if that EV is one of those opportunities, then we would certainly put up our hand for it.”
Collins concedes Honda’s position could change, but for now, recent restructuring is also holding the carmaker back.
“But I have to say, we’ve had to restructure our business over the last few years, and really concentrate on our core products to get back to where we are today, which is really a much stronger position, and that allows us to look at those types of opportunities in the future,” he said.
“I’m not ruling it out in the future … but what happens in the future I don’t know. It could be an option available to us. I think it is a beautiful looking car and the styling of it would work for this market. But at this point it’s only available for Europe.”
Honda’s current (and near future) EV range includes the Urban, the Insight and the Clarity, which is also available as a Plug-in Hybrid and a Fuel Cell – none of which are available in Australia.
Honda has been contacted for comment and we will keep you posted if any new information becomes available.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.