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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Honda, RA107, livery launch, 2007, 7The 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.

Honda, RA107, livery launch, 2007, 5The ‘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.

Honda, RA107, livery launch, 2007, 6It 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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