Ignore the cynics: Honda’s ‘Green’ car is great

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The reaction to Honda’s radical ‘Earth car’ was mixed: “The first ‘green’ F1 car,” proclaims the Daily Mirror. “It only does 5 miles per gallon and creates 138 tonnes of carbon,”

“Honda fast-track the environment into Formula One but stand accused of ‘Greenwash’,” The Independent.

One thing is certain – the green brigade aren’t keen on having environmentalism sold to them by F1 racers.

Neither Friends of the Earth nor Greenpeace chose to get on board with Honda’s scheme and the European Federation for Transport and the Environment were snottily dismissive, “We’re not sure what painting an F1 car green will do for the planet.”

The cynics and holier-than-thou green lobby had a field day. Good for them – but Honda may yet have the last laugh.

The ‘Earth car’ idea is a clever one. Choosing such a prescient issue as climate change guarantees press exposure – indeed only McLaren’s enormous bash at Valencia made a bigger impression on the national newspapers this year.

It does a power of good for Honda’s image as an environmentally-aware car manufacturer. Previously arch-rival Toyota had made giant strides here with the media’s great (and questionable) affection for its hybrid Prius.

Honda took the opportunity of the RA107’s livery launch to draw attention to the steps it has taken to promote environmentalism, from more efficient car production processes to four-stroke petrol engines in boats.

What’s good for the gander is good for the goose. FIA President Max Mosley announced his plans to make F1 more environmentally-friendly last year – and this move by Honda gave those plans the vital oxygen of publicity.

It was unfortunate, then, that the news slipped from the FIA today that its heat-recovery systems for F1 cars will be delayed a year to 2011. But at least someone had their act together and pointed out that F1 has run a ‘carbon neutral’ scheme (the latest green buzz-phrase) since 1997.

Honda’s move keeps the pressure on the FIA, and as Pitpass cleverly pointed out, this must surely come to bear on the oddities of F1’s qualifying system very soon. For F1 will look very silly if it proclaims it is moving towards environmentally-friendly technology, yet still has a ‘fuel burn’ phrase in every qualifying session…

Honda’s plan is a marketing masterstroke. It has given them enormous exposure with non-motor sport fans – something that F1 teams do far, far too rarely. Compared to the likes of NASCAR F1 does woefully little in the way of promotion.

If I have one criticism, it is this: the slick veneer of Honda’s myearthdream.com website rather comes apart when you get to the tatty and horrible ‘make a pledge’ page. Just a thought.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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5 comments on “Ignore the cynics: Honda’s ‘Green’ car is great”

  1. I completely agree with everything you say there, Keith. The so-called environmentalists have had a field day, but I feel they’ve only made themselves look silly when a Motor Company is actually trying to do something positive. Sure, it does appear strange that a motor racing team are promoting a ‘Save the planet’ type agenda, but that is exactly what they should do. Sometimes people just say stuff to get heard, rather than to actually achieve something – I respect those who achieve over those who just speak.

  2. I’ve been all over the F1 forums looking for a poll concerning the new Honda ‘livery’. Atlas F1 as of Feb 28:
    Bad 28%
    Nice try 32%
    Good 38%
    38% is hardly over-whelming acceptance.
    I’m definately in the BAD lot. I’ve got no complaint with Honda promoting their version of environmentally sound engineering
    but this display is merely POLITICAL and politics has no place in sport. I’m 62 years old and from the age of NATIONAL colours,
    British was green, French was blue, German was Silver,
    and drivers were the stars of the show. In those days we drove the cars we didn’t fly them. Today F1 has deteriorated into BUSINESS, drivers are mere employees,
    there are too many ‘kids’ lacking experience and of course there’s Madman Mosley and Bernie bigbucks who have done little to enhance the sport. Having sad all that I am grateful to have enjoyed F1 when it was the pinnacle of motorsport.

  3. I like Number 38 – he’s even older than I am… :D

  4. Maybe it’s a part of their plan.The Honda’s wouldn’t do Session 3 as a part of their “earth dream” programme.Either ways,they are still slow.

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