Honda boss on hitting electric car targets, used cars and what 2024 has in store for car dealers

  • OEMs and dealers will have a tough challenge this year meeting ZEV mandate, says Honda UK boss
  • Dealers pre-registering new electric cars to hit 22% target is a probability
  • MD is confident Honda will meet the quota without being slapped with fines

Time 8:40 am, February 1, 2024

Dealers tactically registering new electric cars to meet the strict ZEV mandate this year is a ‘probability’, Honda’s UK boss has said.

Rebecca Adamson, head of automobile (UK) at Honda Motor Europe, made the comment during a wide-ranging video interview (above) with Car Dealer which included a market update, observations about EV sales and the used car market.

Honda, like all major car manufacturers, is required to meet the strict ZEV mandate which came into force in January.

The government has stipulated that 22% of every carmaker’s sales have to be electric this year, and that percentage will rise to 100% in 2035. Failure to meet this quota will result in a £15,000 fine on every car they miss.

In the video interview which you can watch at the top of this post, Adamson said that’s ‘going to be a challenge’.

When asked if dealers will have to resort to tactically registering cars – or ‘pre-reg’ – and stocking them as used cars to help manufacturers reach the quota, Adamson said: ‘I think it’s definitely a possibility and a probability – the challenge with this that you still need to find an end user for your used car.

‘Our view is that it’s better to find the end user for the new car.

‘There’s going to be a number of possibilities and options that will come out as we go through the year, but I think the first position for all of us is that we proactively and positively retail these cars.

‘But, ultimately, when it comes to closing the year, the industry is going to be faced with the fact that it [the 22%] is a finite figure that we need to achieve. There may be an opportunity to trade off into CO2, but for most manufacturers that’s going to be very limited.’

The Honda chief explained she’s confident that the Japanese carmaker will reach the quota without having to be slapped with the punitive fines, due in part to its retail offers.

In December 2023, the firm launched a deal that brought the e:Ny1 electric crossover in line with the HR-V Hybrid to help buyers make the switch to electric.

For the same monthly figure, £346, buyers could choose the e:Ny1 Electric Elegance or HR-V Hybrid Advance.

The offer was intended to end on January 31, but Adamson told Car Dealer the offer has been extended to the all-important plate-change month of March.

‘Am I confident [of meeting the 22% quota]? Yes, absolutely,’ she said.

‘The offer we put out there was different – it was a focus on retail rather than a focus on corporate. We discussed it with our investors to understand how we can stand out in what is a very aggressive and noisy market at the moment. And we felt that this was kind of very Honda, as well.

‘The response and the results today have been what they need to be. However, what I have learned in the last four years in this role is be prepared for the unexpected. And as and when that happens, we’ll respond appropriately.’

Elsewhere in the interview, Adamson chatted about dealer profitability, agency sales and new car prices.

Click the video at the top of this story to watch the full discussion.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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