Honda delays plans to build clean diesels

By Bryan Sims | July 13, 2010
Posted July 19, 2010

Honda Motor Co., Japan's second-leading automaker, announced last week that it plans to delay production of its clean diesel engines and shift focus on its growing hybrid line.

The decision comes in light of Honda's plans to delay construction of its Yorii factory, north of Tokyo, and a plant at its subsidiary Yachiyo Industry Co. to produce so-called mini-vehicles, light cars with engine sizes up to 660 cubic centimeters, both of which were originally scheduled to start production this year. The Yorii facility is projected to begin production in 2013, which falls in line with Honda's latest plan to start in or after 2012.

"This isn't a new announcement," Honda spokesman Chris Martin told Biodiesel Magazine. "About three years ago, we were aiming to bring clean diesels to our Acura brand. That was during a time when gas prices were getting high and diesel prices were relatively low at that time and we saw an opportunity to bring a cleaner diesel vehicle in Europe and to California due to their respective strict emission regulations. Once diesel prices started creeping higher with gas prices we started looking in a different direction in the hybrid line."

After the global financial meltdown in 2008, Honda initially planned to build clean diesel and other fuel-saving vehicles at its Yorii manufacturing facility, but has since delayed the development of clean diesel engines, planning instead to roll out with a new hybrid system to boost fuel economy in its larger vehicles, according to Martin.

"We're certainly not out of the diesel business," Martin said. "We continue to look for developments there."

Honda CEO Takanobu Ito, who took the helm about a year ago, has said he wanted to accelerate the roll-out of hybrid cars as environmental regulations become more stringent worldwide.
 
 
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