The Japanese automaker can't see a better solution for carbon neutrality than electric vehicles.
EVs might not be the only way to clean up the environment, but the fact is that there aren't too many viable alternatives. That's something Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe admitted in a recent interview with The Drive.
"The thing is that our goal is to achieve carbon neutrality. It is not to manufacture EVs," said Mibe. "However, if we look at the technologies available right now, by looking at the current [global] situation, I believe that the battery EV is the best solution we have."
"The reason why I say that is because, even though we have looked at e-fuels, the theoretical cost simply does not come as low as the current gasoline style," added the CEO.
Porsche and Hyundai are among those developing synthetic fuels, but Honda clearly feels that their research will prove too costly for mainstream use in most markets, although some could benefit from alternatives to EVs.
"Of course, each country has its own different situation in terms of mobility issues, so it's about the different resources we can develop to generate power," said Mibe. "In the case of Japan, specifically, after a big earthquake, we've used more fossil fuels more often to generate power. In this kind of situation in this country, rather than EVs, hybrids would be better in terms of CO2 consumption - it's not as if EVs are correct and hybrids are not. Ethanol and other fuels will remain available in certain regions like in Brazil, but this will not become the majority."
Honda Managing Officer Shinji Aoyama also weighed in on the problem of cleaning up the automotive industry and its production processes. "Resource circulation is one of the key issues," said Aoyama. "Resource circulation means we have to replace many of our [vehicle] parts and components with sustainable or recyclable materials. We have to change that part of the process, but then after we change to sustainable materials, in 10-15 years, we have to recycle those materials. Then the key question is how to turn recycled products into usable materials again. From raw materials to recycling, we have many things to do, but we cannot do [them] just by ourselves. Various partnerships in various areas will be required in the future."
These comments give us a thread of hope to hang onto; perhaps EVs won't truly be the only option.
Yes, Honda is working on numerous new EVs, including the recently unveiled Honda Prologue, and yes, these sorts of vehicles will be critical to Honda's success in most so-called first-world markets. Particularly in built-up areas, EVs will become the norm. But while certain states will have the infrastructure and lifestyle to support an electric lifestyle, others do not. We don't see too many Tesla fans in Alaska, for example.
If the transportation sector as a whole can simply become carbon neutral, with some of that the result of EVs and some the result of other initiatives, then there exists a chance that the electric movement will not become a universal one.
But unless the costs of alternative fuels are reduced and various carbon-cutting measures are implemented on a wholesale scale, it seems that most manufacturers will simply go the easy route, which at this point seems to be almost exclusively electric.