Upcoming regulations in the state of California could force Honda to release an EV within the next few years.  California regulations will require automakers to sell a given number of zero emission vehicles within the state in the next decade forcing automakers to produce ZEVs or forfeit sales in California.

The regulations do not present a problem for many automakers who have scheduled the release of an EV within the next few years, but for Honda who is still not comitted to EVs, the regulations may force the automaker to begin development soon.

Honda has focused much of its research, time, and money into fuel cell powered vehicles.  Their current CEO Takanobu Ito believes that hydrogen fuel cells are the long term solution for emission free vehicles, but the infrastructure is slow in the making.

The existing hydrogen filling stations are virtually non-existent and new ones are slow to open.  In order to supply the Californian market with ZEVs, Honda may have no choice but to produce a battery electric vehicle.

The company has presented some EV concepts including the one pictured above, but is non-comittal at this time.  However, their joint venture with lithium-ion battery maker GS Yuasa could provide them with a source for batteries.  The venture was initially formed to supply Honda with batteries for upcoming hybrid models.

California's stringent emission policies have caused great grief for automakers in the past and may force Honda to temporarily break away from their belief that fuel cell are the vehicles of tomorrow.  Though work will certainly continue on fuel cell vehicles, Honda's focus may soon turn to producing an EV before new regulations go into effect.

Source:  Automotive News (login required)