Honda Expands on All Fronts with Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids, and Electric Car
In 2011 Honda will introduce a new Civic Hybrid using a new lithium-ion battery from Blue Energy, a joint venture company between GS Yuasa and Honda that will begin production of the battery at its plant in the latter half of this year. The lithium battery will be high-output, lighter weight than the older NiMH, and compact.
Honda hybrids increased to 16% of total Honda sales in Japan in 2009 in the middle of a severe recession. This hybrid financial success is encouraging Honda to become more aggressive about hybrid cars and plug-ins, especially in the face of Japanese competition from Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.
Honda introduced new models equipped with Honda’s original lightweight and compact IMA hybrid system, namely Insight and CR-Z. The percentage of hybrid vehicle sales among all Honda vehicle sales in Japan increased to 16% in 2009.
The Honda Fit Hybrid will be introduced in Japan this fall, capitalizing on the success of the Fit. Honda will introduce multiple models, mainly small-sized vehicles, equipped with its IMA hybrid system in Japan next year.
Electric Car and Plug-in Hybrid
Honda Motor Co., Ltd., President and CEO Takanobu Ito in his mid-year address today announced that Battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be introduced in the U.S. in 2012; with a demonstration program of the technologies beginning this year. By the end of 2010 and continuing through 2011, Honda will roll out a battery-electric vehicle demonstration program in the U.S. with participants, including:
- Stanford University
- City of Torrance, California
Last year, I saw a Honda concept vehicle that wowed drivers in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Next year, Honda may begin sales of an electric car inspired by the EV-N concept design, with one seat in front and two in back. The EV-N is a battery electric concept vehicle incorporated Honda’s own solar panels in to the roof of the concept, to charge the car while it is parked. Two of Honda’s U3-X, electric personal mobility devices are attached to the inside of each door. The two-door Concept is envisioned with a Lithium ion battery pack, and small electric motor for predominantly urban use.
The EV-N concept’s four-seat interior had adequate room due to a compact battery electric drivetrain. The seats had a mesh finish, both very light and easy to change. The interior used a minimal style, to reduce the weight of the vehicle, increasing range and performance.
The City of Torrance will receive a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for evaluation by the end of 2010. A new plug-in hybrid system for mid-size to larger vehicles will be introduced in the U.S. market in 2012. Clean Fleet Report speculates that a potential plug-in hybrid platform is the beautiful Honda FCX Clarity. The Clarity already has an electric drive system and is the most technologically advanced fuel cell vehicle. A similar model could be offered with a small gasoline engine and gas tank, replacing the fuel cell and hydrogen tank. Honda could offer customers a choice between fuel cell and plug-in hybrid.
Clean Fleet Report predicts that the battery-electric car with be a smaller car for the urban environment designed to compete with the Toyota FT-EV and the Mitsubishi iMiEV.
The Blue Energy JV with Honda adds to the success of GS Yuasa which already has the Lithium Energy JV with Mitsubishi. The most popular electric car in Japan is the iMiEV. Mitsubishi expects to have sold 5,000 of these pure battery-electric cars by the end of this year.
Both Toyota and Ford have been implementing comprehensive plans to give customers a wide choice of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric cars. Now Honda makes this competition much more interesting.