Electric vehicles have come a long way since the first concept cars of the 1970s and ‘80s – who can forget the famous Sinclair C5? – and today, a growing number of major manufacturers are offering electrical options as a viable city car alternative.
The announcement that Honda is teaming up with one of the biggest names in home electronics is an indication of just how mainstream electric cars are likely to become over the next several years.
Memorandum of Understanding
Back in February, Honda and Hitachi signed a Memorandum of Understanding that could mark a watershed in automotive technology. The deal brought into existence a new company called Hitachi Automotive Motor Systems Limited, which will be exclusively focused on the development, manufacturing and sale of electrical motors for vehicles.
Each of the Japanese conglomerates has ploughed investment of some five billion yen – roughly equivalent to £34 million each – into the venture, with Hitachi taking a 51 per cent majority shareholding.
The new company will be based at Hitachi Automotive Systems’ existing facility in Hitachinaka-shi, located in the northern Kantō region of Japan.
The venture is the second major project that Honda has invested in this year. The company has already announced that it is investing a similar sum in a joint venture with General Motors to create a company called Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC.
Preparing for the future
With the infrastructure in place, both Honda and Hitachi are in a perfect position to be leaders in alternative fuel technology and to react to market trends. Neither company has been drawn on committing to a timescale or commenting on the volumes of electrical motors that will be manufactured. They simply say that they will respond to the growing global demand from automobile manufacturers.
Supermarkets have slashed 2p from the price of a litre of fuel, suggesting that a new price war could be
about to erupt across British forecourts. In a year when we have been seeing escalating prices in most areas, this spells a rare piece of good news for the nation's motorists.
The move comes following a drop-in wholesale prices, and has been greeted with an attitude of “about time”
by motoring groups, who have long accused fuel retailers of being slow to pass savings like these on to consumers.
The trend was kicked off by Asda, which dropped its price per litre to 111.7p on 15 June. This was quickly
replicated by rival supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrison’s, who had brought their own prices in line with Asda's within 24 hours.
How low will they go?
The price of oil has plummeted over the past month – in late May it stood at more than £41 per barrel, while today it is down to a seven-month low of less than £35. This represents a fall of around 15 percent in the space of a month, and as a result, the RAC is predicting that petrol prices could fall by a further 2p per litre and diesel by 4p. If oil prices continue to fall, however, this could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Where the supermarkets have led, it is expected that other fuel retailers will follow, leading to a holesale drop in prices across the country. Some rural filling stations are still charging a remarkable 120p per litre at the pumps – while a difference of a penny or two can be understandable, consumers will not be prepared to pay an additional 9p per litre, which equates to a difference of around £5.00 to fill up the average family car.
On 06 July, Henry Box Playing Fields in Witney will be hosting the 51st Witney Motor Show. As one of the most long-standing events in the automotive calendar, we can expect a great turn out, with exhibitors ranging from main dealers showing the latest models to classic car clubs and private individuals displaying the very best of our motoring heritage.
There will also be a number of local car and motorcycle dealers in attendance – so whether you are into something old, something new or something in between, if it has wheels, it will be there at Witney!
Here are a few highlights to look out for:
Whether you are considering buying a new or used pick up, or you just want to take a look at the latest models, Dowley's of Brize Norton will be hosting a stand showing the latest range from Isuzu, including the amazing D-Max.
Everybody loves a Porker! The Porsche Club Cotswold Region will be out in force, and there will be a whole range of these iconic German sports cars to drool over, from classics that predate the first Witney show back in 1966 to the very newest models.
The RS Owners Club
Ford's flagship sports variant first appeared in the early 1970s with the Escort RS 1600, and since then, every Ford RS to roll off the production line has been an instant classic. Visit the Oxford RS Owners Club stand and check out these high-performance beasts from across the decades.
Take a look
These are just a few of the exhibitors that will be making this year's show one to remember. It all kicks off at 6PM, so why not come along and enjoy a summer's evening that will appeal to every petrolhead?
See you there!
Last week residents of Steeple Aston put rubber ducks in potholes to protest against the terrible condition of local roads, when they became filled with water following heavy rainfall.