For whatever reason, diesel engines get a bad rap in America. Even at their worst, they were never that bad (at least in my opinion). Torque, good gas mileage, and never a line at the gas station (just 5% of American cars are diesels). Plus, they last forever. Even so, the tide of public opinion still seems against diesel engines, and the major manufacturers are noticing.
Honda is ditching its R&D into clean diesel engines to focus instead on hybrids. As we all know, hybrids are all the rage right now, and Honda is hedging its bets by focusing on building band-aid cars instead of coming up with genuine solutions. Didn’t try already try that?
Before the Toyota Prius hit the market, there was this awkward two-door car driving around called the Honda Insight. This hybrid beat the Prius to market, but unlike its Toyota competitor, it never really took off in popularity. Maybe it was the weird wheel covers, the door-wedge shape, or maybe because it was barely marketed and tiny. The Insight disappeared, the Prius dominated, and then Honda tried again, re-launching the Insight against last year to a whole lot of shoulder shrugging.
Now comes news that a planned factory where they would build mini-cars and clean diesel engines has been scrapped. Instead, Honda is going to redouble its efforts on hybrids. They do have the CR-Z on the way, which is actually gaining in popularity despite its so-so fuel economy, and the plan is to produce better hybrid powertrains for its larger vehicles. So it looks like Honda is going to take another genuine stab at making hybrids work.
That is all fine and dandy, but I was hoping they might shift their focus more on hydrogen. The FCX Clarity is a running, driving hydrogen car. It is just ridiculously expensive and there is almost no infrastructure whatsoever to support it. So I guess if they stopped focusing on diesels, and started focusing more on hydrogen, I might be a little happier. Instead though, they are doing what pretty much everyone else is doing; making hybrids. Boring.
Source: Reuters | Image: Honda
Chris DeMorro is a car enthusiast, blogger, and all-around crazy man who is as passionate about hybrids as he is about Hemis. You can follow his constant misadventures at ThreeMonthsInAMustang.com.