Honda has long cited their concerns about the expense and range of lithium-ion batteries as the primary reason why they haven't developed a plug-in hybrid. They prefer hydrogen fuel cells, and became the first automaker to offer the technology here last fall, when they began leasing their FCX Clarity model in Los Angeles. But, considering the shift in U.S. policy that favors battery electric technology, Honda may develop a set of plug-in hybrids as well. They do not plan to rush a vehicle to market, nor do they plan to abandon their hydrogen fuel cell program, but they do plan, at least tentatively, to develop a plug-in.
“We are thinking about plug-in hybrids, but we aren’t thinking about commercializing one right away,” said Honda President Takeo Fukui, in an interview with Bloomberg's Alan Ohnsman last week in Detroit.
Of course, the first step would be to develop a battery Honda found reliable enough to meet their standards. Last week Honda began building a new factory in Japan to build battery packs for use in a gas-electric hybrid with partner GS Yuasa Corp. Honda intends to produce the vehicles to use those packs late next year.
“We started working with GS Yuasa with just the hybrid application in mind,” Fukui said. “We are thinking about extending that application to plug-in hybrids.”