Honda Motor Co. Chief Executive Hiroyuki Yoshino talked to Automotive News Europe's Georg Auer about the company's alternative fuel and hybrid vehicle strategies.
Honda has stated it will bring a fuel-cell car onto the market in 2003. What type of fuel cell will you use?
We have not decided whether to use the methanol converter or pure hydrogen. In Europe, the supply of hydrogen is better than in most regions. The car (the fuel-cell-powered Honda FCX shown at the Tokyo auto show in October) is just a study. The final product will be a different car.
If you launch a hydrogen car, an infrastructure for the fuel will have to be established. How long will that take?
I doubt if there will be an infrastructure in place by 2003. I don't know how long it will take, but that's not in the auto industry's control. I'm sure there will be a lot of discussion among related industries.
Will Honda be strong enough to go it alone? Or will you cooperate with another manufacturer to achieve economies of scale?
One question is how do we cover the global market? European manufacturers often only have a limited coverage of the world. The French and Italian carmakers are not manufacturing in the U.S.A. or in Asia. Honda covers the whole world. We have 108 operations in 33 countries, so we don't need to cooperate with others.
A second factor would be future technology and environmental issues. We think we have pretty good capabilities in those fields. Numbers are not everything. If you have the right product, you can sell it with a profit.
But Honda does not even have a diesel engine of its own.
We have just finished developing one. It will be coming out in three years' time.
The hybrid Insight's predecessor had a capacitor instead of batteries. Now it has batteries. Why did you change?
We are continuing research in capacitors, but up to now the production technology has not progressed to a satisfying point.
A hybrid does not really make sense in such a small car, as you can't save a lot of fuel. Are you thinking of a bigger hybrid car?
We are evaluating the hybrid in the Insight and we will see how things develop.