You read that right, Honda is going to release a hybrid version of Freed in 2011! The news couldn’t be more official than official as current Honda President, Takanobu Ito himself told Nikkei on a newspaper interview.
Here’s an excerpt from Greencarcongress.com which covers the news.
The company intends to add a variety of hybrid models in the near future, including the CR-Z, a sporty hybrid, in February and a hybrid version of its Fit subcompact by the end of 2010. For the hybrid minivan expected as early as 2011, the company plans to launch a hybrid version of its mainstay Freed.
Fuel efficiency has been what matters most in hybrid vehicles, but what is required from now on is a balance among economy, fuel efficiency and price,” Ito said, expressing a desire to offer a wide variety of hybrids to customers. In developing electric cars, Honda must first meet California’s Zero Emission Vehicle regulation, which is considered the toughest in the world, Ito said.
Honda is going full force of introducing hybrid. Beginning with Insight 2.0, Honda is introducing (finally) hybrid technology to sub compacts which should make available these fuel sippers to the masses. Fit hybrid should be a no brainer as it will come in 2010 (an old news actually, I just didn’t have the time to post it), but the news about Freed being hybridized is welcoming news indeed. The Fit hybrid should cater to the newly weds, and the Freed hybrid caters to the new family.
How much fuel efficient the new Freed hybrid? Nobody knows… But according to Civic to Civic Hybrid, fuel efficiency increases up to 20% on highway (according to American Honda Motor EPA rating). Now, off course the price will also get an increase as well, but by how much? 30% should be warranted, and the cost of investment buying the hybrid version should be justified in just 3 years time (I randomly pick a long safe time).
A moment of palm to the face should be warranted because… Hey, Freed uses the same driving system as Fit, right down to the gearbox. So when Fit is going hybrid, why the same driving system shouldn’t fit into the Freed?
Honda also going to officially participate in the off again on again electric car battle inthe United States. Before, it was politic that kills Honda EV+ back in 2000, and now, with a swift slap from lady serendipity… It’s politic again that brings back the electric car war. The Governator has signed California zero emission vehicle regulation that warrants fat tax deduction for zero emission vehicle… Which are electric cars by the way.
So, the million dollar and two cent question is… Will we get it? (as in we + 2009 = South East Asia). Freed, again, as of today is still in high demand in Indonesia. Waiting list has reached November, and for some colors the waiting period has reached December. So, the rest of ASEAN should wait patiently until at the very least demand cools down before Honda starts to make the Freed available in your countries… Wait, that didn’t answer the question… Okay, will we get a hybrid Freed? It depends whether we get a hybrid Fit/Jazz or not. Producing a car is simple. You cast the engine, the chassis, and the sheet metal, assemble the parts and voila, a car. With a hybrid… Not so much.
Producing or even assembling a hybrid needs another level of experience which no SE Asia countries ever met. I’ve read complaint about Hyundai H-1 driver got a mild shock because of improper battery shielding, and that’s while he was opening the driver’s door … Now imagine a shock from a hybrid battery that holds more than 10 times the charge of a regular car battery. Thus, higher care and quality control must be put in place for a hybrid to be produced or even assembled. Off course, if Honda going to make the hybrid Freed affordable, economy in scale must be put in place… And that means having SE Asia a piece of the Freed hybrid.
We’ll see what happened when the Fit hybrid is released… If we get a Jazz hybrid, then, you know that we will get a Freed hybrid.