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HONDA GOES ELECTRIC AND PLUG-IN FOR 2012

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jul 25, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Honda EV-N concept By Roy Nakano After championing its Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) mild hybrid designs for more than a decade, and all-but poo-pooing electric cars as viable family transportation, Honda has announced it will introduce an electric-powered urban commuter car as well as a larger plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for sale in 2012. The announcement was made by Honda Motor Company President and CEO Takanobu Ito. Honda's new PHEV package is being specifically tailored for use in mid-size to larger vehicles but will spawn multiple variations over time, according to Ito. The electric-powered urban commuter vehicle is expected to be patterned after the EV-N concept vehicle, which itself is inspired by the first vehicle sold in the U.S. by Honda, the N600.

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“News that Honda is running full steam ahead into plug-in and full battery-electric vehicles has many of us scratching our heads and wondering 'what happened?,” says James Bell, an executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com. “After all, it was Honda that brought the first hybrid to our shores in the form of the original Insight, which is still the MPG champ over the last 11 years. Toyota then introduced the first-generation Prius, and thus began a VHS vs. Beta or Blue Ray vs. HD-DVD type of war, the implications of which are being felt with Honda’s recent announcement. Toyota went full-hybrid while Honda espoused the virtues of mild-hybrid.” The market voted for full. “In addition, Chevrolet and Nissan shook up the auto world with their extended-range Volt and BEV LEAF production plans, and both Toyota and Honda were evidently caught flat-footed with their conservative focus only on the two styles of hybrids,” says Bell. “As a result, we see Toyota fervently hooking up with Tesla for a BEV jumpstart, and Honda scrambling for similar attention” with the aforementioned announcement.

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It was just back in May of 2010 that Honda's president of research and development, Tomohiko Kawanabe, spoke candidly about his skepticism of electric drivetrain systems. Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield of AllCarsElectric.com reported that Kawanabe's response to questions on the future of Honda and any EV was delivered with an air of a child forced to play with an annoying younger sibling: "We are definitely conducting research on electric cars, but I can't say I can wholeheartedly recommend them" explained Kawanabe. "It's questionable whether consumers will accept the annoyances of limited driving range and having to spend time charging them"

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Honda's EV-N concept interior KBB’s Bell is amazed how in just a short four or five years, Toyota and Honda went from the original two green-car leaders to followers. “However, it pays to mention that consumers will have their chance to vote on this story, complete with international intrigue and possible major implications, when the Volt and LEAF hit showrooms later this year.” See: "Honda will bring new EV and Plug-in models to America in 2012"

1967 Honda N600

The original 1967 Honda N600

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