Clean energy on wheels takes centerstage


Not so long ago, vehicles running on alternative fuels or those that don’t run solely on gasoline or diesel fuels, were relegated to some discreet corners of motorshow booths.

They served more like sidelights as the crowd would gather around newly unveiled or soon-to-arrive vehicle models powered by a technology that was simply a refinement of a 150-year-old invention.

This year, during the 45th edition of the Tokyo Motor Show—historically the coming-out party for the most audacious of vehicle designs—these alternative fuel vehicles are the stars of the show signaling that yes, we will soon have to say goodbye to vehicles that run purely on gasoline or diesel.

Whether we like this development or not, a number of governments around the world are already gearing up for a significant change to deal not only with the problems to health caused by tailpipe emissions but the broader problems caused in terms of accelerating climate change.

Just last month, China announced that it is considering banning gasoline and diesel cars from its smog-clogged cities and promised to accelerate a push toward electric vehicles.

The plan would follow decisions by France and the United Kingdom to outlaw the sale of such cars and vans from 2040, also to clamp down on harmful emissions.

With the transportation sector contributing roughly 15 percent of man-made carbon emissions worldwide, this indeed, is a significant step.

Automotive manufacturers are more than willing to support this initiative. “Last year, we announced our intention to electrify two-thirds of (our) global automotive sales by 2030. And we are evolving our products toward the realization of this goal,” announced Honda Motor Co. CEO Takahiro Hachigo during the unveiling of concept car and motorcycle models that run on hybrid as well as electric engines.

Honda says it has 28 million customers worldwide.

But in the next few years, Hachigo informs that Honda is already among the leaders in marketing hybrid vehicles. “In the late 1990s, Honda began sales of Insight, a hybrid hatch, and as of today, Honda’s cumulative global sales of hybrid vehicles has exceeded 2 million units. We will further expand our lineup of hybrid vehicles by adding CR-V and Step WGN (an multipurpose vehicle),” said Hachigo.

Last year, Hachigo adds that plug-in hybrid vehicles will play a key role, a reason why Honda is set to introduce the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, which has been announced in the United States and is ready to be sold in Japan by next year.

“While featuring utility equivalent to that of gasoline-powered vehicles, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid realizes electric vehicle range of more than 100 kilometers, powerful acceleration through an electric motor, and quiet and smooth driving performance. This model represents Honda’s new proposal, which will lead to the further popularization of electrified automotive models.” promises Hachigo.

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