Honda will strengthen its green credentials with the introduction a further hybrid model into the UK within the next two years, as well as a small number of the FCX fuel cell car around the same time.
The drive to be perceived as a friend of the environment will extend to the company’s car factory in Swindon with a target of zero landfill by 2010.
Ken Keir, managing director of Honda UK and senior vice president of Honda Europe said that manufacturing processes currently account for around 15 per cent of the company’s carbon footprint. He added: “There are opportunities to improve things and in the UK we will be pushing our suppliers to follow us down the same route.”
The Swindon plant will reach full capacity of 250,000 vehicles a year this October having taken on 700 new workers taking the total workforce to 5,000.
Keir re-affirmed the Japanese company’s commitment to the UK. “It has been hard for us, particularly in the late 1990s, in terms of exchange rates with the Euro but we are through that now and Swindon is also moving up Honda’s own quality index.”
In terms of environmentally-friendly vehicles, Honda sees hybrid as the short term answer while continuing to work on fuel cells in the long term.
Keir added: “We will have a more financially accessible hybrid available by 2009. We have no idea of the size of the hybrid market right now, we just know that right now we can’t meet demand.”
Around 200,000 a year of these will be available from 2009, built in Japan and with around half of production going to North America. Around the same time the Honda FCX fuel cell car will also be available in the UK.
“It is something we will have on offer but there will obviously be infrastructure problems in getting hold of hydrogen for the fuel cells. This is an issue that will have to be addressed as we move into the future.
“Fuel cells are a long way from being economic and some pundits are saying they are still 20 years away. With the FCX Honda will offer it from 2008, but the issue is how you create hydrogen.”
Honda is currently looking at the technology involved in creating hydrogen using solar panels. Keir said: “If this is developed to its ultimate conclusion then it could be possible to generate hydrogen in your own home.”