Earlier this week, Honda announced an accelerated electrification strategy in Europe where instead of electrified vehicles making up two-thirds of sales by 2025, the goal for that continent is now 100 percent. Honda hasn’t said whether or not its timeline for electrification in the U.S. has changed, but either way, it seems likely that one car already destined to go hybrid is the next-generation Civic Type R.
Speaking to PistonHeads at this year’s Geneva motor show, Kohei Hitomi, project manager for the E prototype, said Honda had briefly considered making the next Civic Type R fully electric. That idea’s been scrapped, though, because the Type R is “about handling, operation, and drivability. We don’t think it’s as simple as replacing that with electric power. That’s not the right direction for Type R.”
Based on what he said next, it sounds like the focus has shifted to building a hybrid Civic Type R. Not necessarily to meet emissions and fuel-economy requirements, either. To improve the way it drives.
“People complained when we said the Type R would use a turbocharger, but now they appreciate the new possibilities this has provided,” Hitomi told PistonHeads. “I believe it would be the same for electrified vehicles as well; people who love Type R will come to realize what it can add to the driving experience. We just need to find the best attributes that are relevant for the Type R, so as to enhance the experience without losing what makes a Type R.”
That’s not quite an official confirmation, but it sure is a strong hint. It could also nod at an even bigger change for the Civic Type R. After all, while Honda sells fuel-efficient hybrids with front-wheel drive, it seems to prefer all-wheel drive for its performance hybrids.
Whatever is decided, it will probably be a while before we hear anything official on the next-gen Type R. The current Civic will stick around for a few more years, with the Type R likely following a year after that. U.S.-market Civic hatchbacks like the Type R may be built in America, after Honda announced the 2021 closure of the current source for the models, its Swindon, U.K., plant.