Just like last week's Toyota-Tesla announcement, the rumor mill went into overdrive yesterday with talk of plans from Honda to build both electric cars and plug in Hybrids in the near future.
Knowing full well how the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines felt about battery technology and electric cars in particular, we decided to sit tight on the rumors and see what happened.
We didn't have to wait long.
Honda EV-N Concept EV
While Honda produced some 340 all electric Honda EVPlus models between 1997 and 1999 the company is not known for its love of electric cars.
Citing everything from cost of development to claiming that battery technology was not advanced enough to be used in electric vehicles, Honda became the auto industry's EV denier.
Since the demise of the EVPlus, Honda has focused on fuel cell vehicles and its series hybrid technology, a conventional gasoline engine that powers a generator which in turn powers the road wheels via a motor.
At yesterday's press conference, Takanobu explained that Honda needed to return to it's roots:
Nothing is more important than going back to Honda's basic principle, that is, to see things from the customer's view point, and continue offering products that please our customers. Based on this understanding, Honda's "Direction for the next 10 years" was set. What I think is most important and the message I conveyed strongly to all Honda associates was "to provide good products to our customers with speed, affordability and low CO2 emissions."
While Honda executives still insist that range per charge and recharging time are issues which still concern the company, Honda has acknowledged that while it feels the fuel-cell electric vehicle is the holy grail of future car technology plug in electric cars are important for the near future.
Details are sparse at the moment, but Honda's commitment to electric vehicles includes the development of an electric car which it aims to bring to market in Japan and the U.S. by 2012.
We anticipate the electric car in question will be a production version of Honda's EV-N concept car, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in October last year. If we're right, the vehicle would probably compete directly with Mitsubishi's 2011 i-Miev and Smart's 2012 ForTwo Electric Drive.
Honda’s EV Plus hits the scrap heap – can other electric vehicle be far behind?
We think Honda's plans to build electric and a plug in hybrid cars will no doubt help Honda's environmental score in California, where the company has been buying ‘spare' zero emissions vehicle credits from Tesla Motors to enable it to sell cars in the state.
While Honda are unmistakably late to the electric vehicle party started by Nissan and Mitsubishi back in 2009, we can't wait to see who goes home at the end of the night with the most consumers and who will be left slow-dancing themselves home afterwards.