Honda looks to return as market leader

by MARK RAO

Honda Malaysia Sdn Bhd aims to sell 150 units a month of its newly launched hybrid model, as the Japanese auto-maker looks to regain its market leader position in the hybrid car segment.

At a retail price of RM87,500, the new Jazz Hybrid will be the only sport hybrid vehicle in Malaysia that is priced below RM90,000,

Group VP Akhbar Danial said the company is targeting the presently underserved affordable market segment for hybrid cars.

“The hybrid market (in Malaysia) is more focused on the luxury market, with not many offering affordable and competitively priced models,” Akhbar said in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“By introducing this model, we might be able to capture that market,” he added.

He said that once the new Jazz Hybrid becomes available from July onwards, Honda Malaysia is looking to secure a market share of over 50% in the hybrid segment.

The automaker once held a 55% share in the local hybrid market in 2013, but had since halted production of hybrid models when the tax-free completely built-up hybrid window closed on Dec 31 in the same year.

The new Jazz Hybrid marks the company’s return to the hybrid and energy efficient vehicle (EEV) game in Malaysia — with the country also being the first outside of Japan to host Honda’s new intelligent dual-clutch drive hybrid system via the new model.

“We launched the new hybrid car into the Malaysian market because we want to work with the government direction of introducing more EEV models in the country.

“It was good timing for us to enter the Malaysian hybrid car sector,” Akhbar said.

The new Jazz Hybrid is equipped with a 1.5-litre DOHC i-VTEC engine, coupled with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and integrated high power motor, and powered by a lithium-ion battery.

At 1.5 times its energy capacity, the battery performs at a 50% higher rate than the previous integrated motor assist system, despite being smaller in size by 5.6%. Fuel efficiency for the new model is recorded at four litres for every 100km.

The new Jazz Hybrid was unveiled alongside the new Jazz Petrol yesterday, with the latter’s S, E and V variants priced at RM74,800, RM81,000 and RM88,400 respectively.

The new Jazz Petrol comes with a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine and continuous variable transmission, with brake assist and anti-locking braking systems available across all three variants.

The company said it will make an announcement on its total sales target soon, but will look to improve on its previous performance.