A FORMER senior engineer for Honda with 27 years manufacturing experience has said hydrogen fuel, not electric, is the future for the motor industry.

Mike Godfrey, who got an OBE in 2011 for services to the automotive industry, joined Honda in 1985, was the chief engineer and held a number of senior engineering roles, before stepping down in 2012.

Last week he retired from the post he took up at Business West as the manager of the Swindon Initiative.

Saying his final words he said he was devastated by the decision taken by Honda this year to close the plant by 2021.

He said car manufacturers faced a “perfect storm” of a drop in demand for diesel, government policy to phase out fossil fuel cars by 2040 after heavy investment by the major car manufacturers, and Brexit.

But he has reservations on the sustainability of electric cars, citing the uncertainty around the amount of available lithium for batteries, and the infrastructure and capacity needed to power millions of electric cars.

He said: “People want to promote battery and electric. Undoubtedly, it has some advantages but the charging facilities are just not there yet.

“Shell are looking to put at least two chargers into their wholly owned petrol stations but it is still not enough.

He added: “I actually believe the future is hydrogen.

“It is the most abundant substance in the universe. In Swindon, there is the Hydrogen Hub and there are two hydrogen filling stations here.

“There are seven vehicles running around Swindon - more than any other town in the UK.

"It is the future. The ultimate final solution - probably in 15 years’ - time will be hydrogen.”

Mike, now 64, set up his own consultancy company when he left Honda six years ago, and still works for them looking after their pensions.

Dee Temple-Multon will take over from Mike at the Swindon initiative, although he will stay on as a non-executive director of Business West and its parent company, GWE holdings.

In retirement, Mike is now going to volunteer for two charities - one dealing with mental health and the other with child safety.