Honda drops diesels in Europe in electric push

November 28, 2018 06:01 CET

Honda is axing its diesel cars in Europe as it adds full-electric and hybrid powertrains in a green technology push.

By 2021, Honda will have no diesel models on sale in Europe when it replaces the current Civic compact, a senior executive said. “Every single model change from now on will not have a diesel,” said Dave Hodgetts, managing director for Honda in the UK, the company’s biggest European market.

Instead new models will be offered with at least one electrified version, he said.

Honda has said it wants two thirds of its vehicles sold in Europe to be electrified by 2025.

The new CR-V compact will be the first mainstream new Honda to be launched without a diesel. It will be offered with a gasoline-electric full hybrid in March. The hybrid be sold alongside a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine.

Honda expects the CR-V hybrid to account for half the car’s predicted 60,000 annual European sales.

Currently Honda offers a diesel in the Civic compact hatchback and the HR-V small SUV. Replacements for the HR-V and small Jazz model, both arriving in 2020, will offer versions using Honda’s i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) hybrid system.

Plug-ins, EV

The Civic will come with a plug-in hybrid version as well as a full hybrid, although the plug-in is not yet confirmed for all European markets yet. “It depends on legislation,” Hodgetts said.

Purchase grants for plug-in hybrids were recently dropped by the UK, currently the largest European market for plug-ins.

Honda has said it will launch its first full-electric car in 2019 based on the Urban EV concept it showed at the 2017 Geneva auto show.

Production of Honda’s 1.6-liter diesel engine at its Swindon, UK, plant could continue. Honda builds a version of the new CR-V with the engine for India, Thailand and the Philippines, but the car is not homologated for the latest European emissions regulations.

Toyota, Volvo shun diesels

Honda is reacting slumping diesel sales. Increasing restrictions on diesel vehicles in polluted cities throughput Europe are deterring customers from buying diesel cars.

Toyota has said it will stop selling diesel versions of its mainstream cars in Europe by the end of the year after sales fell below 10 percent. It will keep diesel for commercial vehicles and its largest SUVs. Toyota and Volvo have said they are no longer developing new diesels.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at ngibbs@crain.com.

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