The idea of what they are calling “co-generation” doe not get as much publicity as the latest Honda bike or car launch, but on July 14th Honda’s Yamada made it clear that company leaders want to see electricity co-generation technology products become a third pillar for Honda’s business, on par with their car and bike retail divisions.
So the first thing you are probably wondering is, well, what on earth is this “co-generation” thing they are talking about anyway? Well, to put it in a nutshell, it refers to domestic electricity generation using a combination of a gas engine and solar panels. Interest has focused on this type of technology in the wake of the earthquake that left so many homes without power, as well as the on-going crisis at the Fukushima nuclear reactor and Prime Minister Kan’s recent call for a nuclear-free Japan. Analysts are expecting this market to boom.
Now, while it is true that Toyota also has other seemingly-unrelated businesses, such as home builder Toyota Home, within its corporate group, Toyota’s primary focus is quite clearly on producing automobiles. So for Honda to be considering such a radical change of corporate strategy as putting this new business on par with their automobile and bike businesses is a very bold move.
So why do it? From Honda’s point of view, this technology also neatly dovetails with their future plans for alternatively powered vehicles. After all, if fuel cells and batteries in EVs or plug-in hybrids require a power source. What better than if you could generate your own power at home for both your household appliances and your vehicles? And once a system is in place to sell power back to the grid, it will give businesses and private individuals a way of participating in the energy generation business and thus paying down the cost of their investment and their own power usage quicker.
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