Mendel touts Hondas green cars, advanced safety designs

Mendel touts Hondaês green cars, advanced safety designs

In the opening presentation for Industry/Media Day #2, at The Washington Auto Show (WAS), American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel spoke of the ways Honda is meeting regulatory challenges in the environmental and safety arenas. His remarks at the WAPA/IMPA Media Breakfast onsite at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center last Thursday, Jan. 21, meshed perfectly with the public policy mission of the WAS.

–For more than 40 years, Honda has been a consistent leader and innovator in the advancement of low-emissions mobility,” Mendel said. A big focus of the Honda exhibit at the WAS is the Clarity Fuel Cell, set to launch in a couple of months in Japan and later this year in the U.S. It will have a driving range of more than 300 miles, refueling times of about three minutes, and a fuel cell powertrain that fits under the hood, allowing for more interior space.

Mendel announced at the show that the Clarity will begin retail leasing in select California markets before the end of the year. It will be priced around $60,000, with an estimated monthly lease price under $500. Initial leasing volume will be limited, and the car will be available for purchase later. First, a hydrogen fueling infrastructure is needed, which now exists only in limited markets in California.

Mendel also talked about the Civic sedanês new small-displacement, 1.5-liter direct-injected turbo engine that gives the car a 41 mpg highway rating. Later this year, Honda will launch the 2017 Accord hybrid with an improved two-motor hybrid system. And by 2018, he said Honda will introduce the next-generation Accord Plug-in hybrid.

At the Consumer Electronics Show, Mendel said, Honda showcased its Power Exporter 9000, which will export electricity from a compatible electric or fuel cell vehicle to the household. That means in the future, you could use your car to power your home. The technology has already been tested at a hospital in Japan.

On the regulatory front, Mendel said that Honda last fall signed the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, reaffirming the companyês goal to cut its total corporate CO2 emissions in half globally by 2050. But in the U.S., EPA, NHTSA and California Air Resources Board are doing a midterm evaluation of the 2025 fuel economy standards.

–With gas prices below $2.00 per gallon, people are buying products that make sense for their lives and their pocketbooks,” Mendel said. –Itês important that the regulations acknowledge this reality.”

On safety, Mendel said that the federal government and 18 automakers had recently signed a set of principles outlining ways to improve safety. One principle seeks to maximize safety recall participation rates, and Honda is among the automakers doing a recall of Takata air bag inflators. It has replaced 5 million inflators for a recall rate of 50 percent. But locating and repairing the other 50 percent will be a lot harder, said Mendel.

To help identify vehicles under recall, Honda has proposed tying state vehicle registrations to recall databases so vehicles cannot be registered until safety recalls have been addressed.

As for safety technologies, Mendel spoke of Hondaês vision of a zero-collision society by 2050, with an interim target to cut crashes of Honda vehicles in half by 2020. To that end, Honda has introduced technologies such as autonomous emergency braking.

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