Tomohiko Kawanabe, Honda‘s president of research & development, expressed doubts about consumer demand for electric vehicles. “We lack confidence,” Kawanabe said in an interview with Automotive News.“It’s questionable whether consumers will accept the annoyances of limited driving range and having to spend time charging them.”
Rival automakers like Nissan and General Motors are pushing ahead with their own EV programs. Nissan’s Leaf is expected to roll out on a limited basis at the end of 2010, while GM’s Chevrolet Volt has been a media darling, enjoying significant positive press. Honda, a company that has always mandated fuel efficiency as one of its prime directives, will continue to press on with this goal, while still exploring other options. “We are definitely conducting research on electric cars, but I can’t say I can wholeheartedly recommend them,” Kawanabe said.
Honda was a pioneer of early EV technology with the EV Plus compact electric vehicle that was available in California from 1997-1999. About 30o cars were leased but Honda did not consider the program successful. Honda is pushing for hydrogen fuel cell technology as the standard for future automobiles, but their progress is currently hampered by inadequate infrastructure surrounding refueling. Honda currently sells their FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle (pictured above) in California. Kawanabe also said that the company is exploring the possibility of building hybrids in North America.
Gallery: Honda FCX Clarity
[Source: Automotive News]