Asia-Pacific News

Honda Pins on Electric Hopes, as F1 Dreams Get Dashed

Daniel Yong, Supervising Producer, CNBC Asia

Nearly two years ago to this date, at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, Honda showcased their environmental F1 car concept. Going green was its aim.

This year, Honda might be going a different shade of green.

At the hugely reduced 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, conspicuously missing from its display is their F1 car.

Instead, Honda Motor will have to watch from afar, perhaps with pursed lips, wondering if they made a mistake as Brawn GP celebrates their double victories.

In its maiden season, with one race weekend to spare, Brawn GP has swept the driver's title as well as the constructor's crown.

Margaux Matrix, a media analysis company that analyzes broadcast and advertizing rates in 18 countries, says Honda missed out on at least $225 million of brand exposure on television.

Brawn GP rose from the ashes of Honda in March this year, when the Japanese automaker announced it was pulling out of the sport.

It felt that no tourniquet could stem the bleeding of 20 billion yen ($220 million) a year to support its involvement in the sport.

So Honda got out of F1 and decided to concentrate on its bread and butter issues of manufacturing mass consumer cars and chasing that hybrid Holy Grail.

Jenson Button may not win any talent contest when he burst into song on the team radio singing "We are the champions" after the race. But he knows he has closure on a turbulent year, and when many had doubted his talent over the years.

Honda, in the meantime, will just probably have to hum to themselves a ditty not as fast nor furious. They will instead try to excite the world with their state-of-the-art environmentally-friendly range of electric vehicles.