The extension of London’s congestion charge zone will lead to massive growth in the adoption of cleaner hybrid cars, says Honda.
Sales forecasts predict there will be over 6,500 more low-emission hybrid cars on London’s roads by 2008 – each taking advantage of the 100 per cent discount from the congestion charge. To meet this demand, Honda is trebling supply of its petrol-electric Civic Hybrid in the UK to 3,000 during 2007.
SMMT figures show that from 2005 to 2006, the percentage of hybrid cars in London rose from 1.03 per cent to two per cent – or over 1,100 cars.
Honda’s sales figures confirm the regional growth, with a third of recent orders for its Hybrid coming from London and the South East – influenced largely by the impact of congestion charging on buying habits in and around the capital. Meanwhile, worldwide sales of Honda hybrids have reached over 185,000.
John Kingston, Environment Manager at Honda (UK) says: “Hybrids are now mainstream cars. Global demand is increasing and across the world we are ramping up production to meet that interest. It’s true that more people want to drive ‘greener’ cars, but financial incentives such as congestion charge discounts and lower road tax are also playing their part.”
Public and private sector organisations are also playing their part in adopting hybrid technology. Last year, in the biggest hybrid fleet deal to date, the Metropolitan Police ordered 117 Civic Hybrids. Other companies running Honda hybrid cars include Innocent Drinks and Clearchannel.
Honda will also launch a concept hybrid sports car in March. Moving beyond the family saloons that make up much of the current hybrid market, the two-seater coupe demonstrates how hybrids can be sporty and stylish. Honda has also committed to producing a global, purpose-built hybrid car that will be smaller and cheaper than the Civic. This will go on sale in 2009.