March 3, 2005

Diesel and hybrids only short-term trends, Honda engineer says

Geneva, Switzerland – Diesels are popular in Europe and hybrids are gaining ground in North America and Japan. But these trends are only short-term, says Honda Motor Company product specialist Laurent Aebi.

“Diesel is popular in Europe, but it’s a short-term trend,” Aebi said. “I give it another 10 years maximum. After that it will be the hybrid car. But both the diesel car and hybrid car are a transition as we head to fuel cell cars or pure electric cars.”

Honda was at the Geneva Auto Show displaying its new FCX fuel cell car, powered by an electric motor that uses hydrogen as its energy source.

Currently, gasoline accounts for 98 per cent of energy used in transport. The world consumes about 80 million barrels of oil a day; American consumption alone is expected to grow nearly 50 per cent over the next 20 years. Estimates vary on when oil production will begin to decline.

In Europe, diesel accounts for more than 50 per cent of cars sold. “There has been very rapid growth in the last 20 years,” said Adriane Brown, president and CEO of Honeywell Transportation, which produces turbochargers for diesel and gasoline-powered engines. “We expect that to reach 56 per cent by 2010.”

Yves Dubreil, vice president-deputy director of vehicle engineering at Renault, said diesel will not be as popular in the United States. “There has been a visceral rejection of diesel by baby boomers who were turned off by the bad performance of the first diesel cars. The high-tech X and Y generations will get attached to the hybrid idea, skipping diesel phase.”

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