Message from the Head of Power Products R&D
Takao Nishida Director and Managing Officer, Power Products R&D Center, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Photo: Power Products R&D Center, Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
In fiscal 2014, we equipped a two-stage snow blower in Japan and a large generator overseas with FI,1 realizing a roughly 15% improvement in fuel efficiency as well as enhanced utility for users. FI is already a common technology in automobiles and motorcycles, but cost has been a major hurdle to its adoption in power equipment. Our success in surmounting this hurdle in fiscal 2014 thus has huge significance for future product development.
In emerging markets, we unveiled a water pump for agricultural applications that, due to enhanced pumping efficiency, is more fuel-efficient. We also released in 2014 a four-stroke backpack power sprayer-a device for spraying agricultural chemicals that users can carry on their back-as a fuel-efficient alternative to mainstream two-stroke models, as well as other products that contribute to reduced agricultural emissions in emerging countries.
Turning to the future, we're developing products that offer new value. These include not only extremely fuel-efficient engine models, but also products that run on alternative fuels such as alcohol and gas, as well as those powered by electricity. Electric products are quiet, emit zero CO2 during use, and also offer more precise control. As long as we can fully leverage the convenient qualities of electricity, these products are an effective option for improving environmental performance and user friendliness simultaneously. We're already using electricity in Honda automobiles and motorcycles, but creating electric products with the performance customers seek but at appealing prices will require one more step forward in innovation. We need to upgrade our technologies by pursuing all of the qualities power products are expected to have as tools-rom comfortable and efficient control and operation, to even having the most convenient size and weight-and then refine them to the point where we can include them in products at an attractive price. Price is the hard part about electrification in particular, but also power products in general. That's why we're working to realize products that not have superior environmental performance but are also surprisingly easy and fun to use. In fiscal 2015, we plan to get the ball rolling by releasing the first model in our product electrification strategy in developed countries. We're basing this product on an existing gasoline engine model so customers can still feel at home with the new setup.
In emerging countries, we want to continue pursuing our current strategy of delivering products at more affordable prices. For most customers in emerging countries, power products are work tools: they are a means of securing a livelihood and improving one's quality of life. As such, they don't need fancy features. By practicing sangen-shugi (a Japanese manufacturing philosophy that emphasizes focusing on the actual place, source, and facts of a problem) in the marketplace and reducing products to their essential functions, we hope to develop products that are appealing by every measure, price included. Spreading the joy of utility in this way will be a major theme going forward.
At the same time, we have to consciously build in environmental performance according to the unique characteristics of each product. No one will buy a tool whose only selling point is that it's good for the environment. We need to create tools with the kind of utility that everyone desires, tools that people will use with affection for 10, 15 years-and to include in them environmental performance that's still relevant after those 10, 15 years have passed. At Honda, that's our mission as a company striving to build a sustainable society.
1. Electronic fuel injection