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Honda May Begin Production of Hybrids in US

26 December 2006

Nikkei. Honda Motor Co. may begin to assemble hybrid vehicles at Honda’s new plant in Indiana, President Takeo Fukui told the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

The new factory, slated to begin operation in 2008 with annual output capacity of 200,000 units, will produce mainly small models, Fukui said. The Civic and the Fit may be made at the new plant, and Honda is considering building its small hybrid-only model—due out in 2009—there.

In his mid-year speech earlier in 2006, Fukui said that the all-new dedicated hybrid vehicle, including the hybrid unit, would be produced at Suzuka Factory in Japan. The worldwide sales plan for the car is approximately 200,000 units per year, including a projected North American sales volume of 100,000 units. (Earlier post.)

Honda currently builds the Civic and the Accord hybrid models in Japan. The start of hybrid production in North America would be the first time it manufactures such vehicles overseas.

Honda would continue to produce motors and other key advanced components in Japan. Hybrid production in North America will likely involve mainly assembly.

Separately, Fukui indicated that the automaker plans to expand its lineup of minivehicles in order to tap growing demand in Japan. Honda currently has six minivehicles: four passenger models, including the Life and the Zest, and two commercial models.

Honda has also indicated that it is interested in developing another global car model. The Civic, Accord, Fit and CR-V crossover are the four models Honda considers “global”—sold in at least three distinct regions. last year, those four models accounted for 60% of the company’s total sales.

December 26, 2006 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (34) | TrackBack (0)

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Excellent, but are they going to manufacture Accord-Hybrid. Its sales are so low. And if Altima-Hybrid comes in Jan-2007, it may grab more share from Accord.

They should reduce the prices of Civic-Hybrid and its sales will pick up.

As long as NA manufacturing dosn't diminish the legendary Honda reliability I am all for this. Perhaps all the auto jobs being lost in Detroit can be scooped up by Honda and Toyota. They already operate at least 15 plants in this country, with indications of more to come.

As for the 2009 Hybrid I am excited as well, especially if it is offered with a diesel option,(fill her up with B-100).

One thing for Honda to watch out for is the EVs coming out of Japan offered by Mitshubishi and Subaru.

The Miev and R1E will have ranges of 150 and 125 miles respectivly, seat 4 each, and the Mitshu will cost $18k, the Subaru will recharge to 90% in 5 minutes. Both cars will be available in Japan by 2008.

With such advances in affordable, real world EVs, hybrids and PHEVs may become obsolete within 10 years.

Honda's planned FCX fuel cell also seems like a strange bird given the trend towards increasingly better Li+ batteries,(Doubling in energy capacity every 7 years).

By the time the Hydrogen infrastructre will be in place electric cars will have available 4X better capacity yielding ranges of 500 miles or more.

Since they will be cheaper to build,(no fuel cell stack with its expensive metals) cheaper to run,(H2 will never cost below $2.5-3/gallon equivalent and electricity already costs $.9/gallon equivalent), and more reliable(less complex components to break) why exactly will we be buying Fuel cells?

Throw in the difficulties in producing H2 from renewable sources,(electrolysis is, at best 50% efficient) and it will always make more sense to use electricity from any renewable source to charge the batteries of tommorow's EVs rather than produce H2 for fuel cells.

If Subaru can make 5 minute charging a reality in 2 years, then recharging an EV will take no more time than a fuel cell, and at substantially less cost.

So if range is the same, time to refuel is the same, cost of manufacturing an EV is less, reliability of EV is higher, and maintenance is lower for EV, why are fuel cells the future?

Is Honda just trying to cover all the bases? Are they trying to neutralize GM's planned 2008 Fuel cell release?

I haven't heard of a planned Honda EV and am concearned that they may have miappropriated the funding in favor of the soon to be obsolete FCX.

Also a concearn is Toyota's promise of a commercial fuel cell by 2015, by which LI+ batteries will be available that have twice the capacity of the A123 M1 battery.

Since Toyota has also failed to announce an electric vehicle, is it possible that these two titans of the automotive world will fall prey to their current eco-friendly hybrid success?

Will they focus so much on Hybrids, Plug in Hybrids and Fuel cells that they fail to see the EV revolution, the final evolution of automotive propulsion, in time?

Will Nissan, Mitshubishi and Subaru(all with planned EVs within the next 2-4 years) become the Toyota and Honda of Toyota of tomorrow?

Or will Toyota, soon to be the biggest car company in the world, surprise the world with a secret EV that they are developing in secret?

Thoughts?

"Or will Toyota, soon to be the biggest car company in the world, surprise the world with a secret EV that they are developing in secret?"
The only big secret about any electric would be its batteries. Anybody can (and has) built an electric car over the past decade. Building the car is child's play. The problem, people, is the BATTERY. Unless it can be quickly recharged and has a low per year cost, a battery cannot produce a viable electric car. Toyota has no ability to design revolutionary batteries. They didn't make all their money on the basis of advanced technology. They made it by having reliable (slightly outdated) technology. Toyota's not going to lead the auto industry anywhere. Honda would be 100 times more likely to create something new than Toyota, who always plays it very safe. Look how fast they pulled their last electric car (an electrified Rav 4, no less!) off the market 4 years ago.

Adam:

Pure electric vehicles are way less versatile than liquid-fueled, to name a few. It is insurmountable disadvantage to EV become mainstream vehicles. Also, any HEV (like Prius) production could be switched to BEV just overnight. Do not discount Toyota; they play safe, but it is only wise for #2 automaker.

And please, could you provide links to your (apparently very interesting) information sources?

Adam,

Great Post! Personally I'm firm believer in the EV revolution, and absolutely see it as the future. I only see advantages with EVs and disadvantages with everything else. An electric vehicle, in the middle of nowhere, can get 'fuel' from the sun with a solar panel. Or, fuel from setting up a little bike generator so you can get to the next outlet. When a liquid-fueled vehicle is out of fuel, you can't get that energy out of thin air like you can with an EV.

I just think that if we went full-EV, the possibilities of the length of charge, recharge time, and ways to recharge, are all sky high. Liquid-fueled vehicles will seem totally backwards in comparison.

I don't know, just a hope I have!

Adam,

You may want to recheck your sources.

A 150 mile EV range which can be recharged in 5 minutes would require a utility plug rated at 3.5 MW. A typical household socket is rated at 0.002 MW. A clothes dryer outlet may be rated at 0.006 MW. (A Prius running on straight electric gets about 200watt-hours/mile-the rest is arithmetic.)

You better be near a large substation and notify your utility before you turn your charger on.

I think the Altima hybrid is to gain share from the Camry hybrid. I think the Civic hybrid is priced in line with the Prius, for obvious reasons. Even at 100k hybrids sold per year, that is less than 1% of the vehicles sold in the U.S. every year. What the U.S. auto makers needed to do in 2001 is say that oil prices will rise, so we need to get with changing our product mix, but they did not. They spent their time telling everyone that hybrids were a fad.

Bill makes a valid point. EV limitation is twofold:

1) Reliable battery technology (not here yet)

2) Reliable fast-charge grid infrastructure (not close yet)

So we need the PHEV, HEV and alt liquid fuels to transition us to new grid/battery systems. It could be worse. We could still be trying to defend drilling and building giant ICEs. Movement forward functions from energy and transit markets understanding they can do well selling alternative fuel vehicles TODAY.

We still have to find ways to generate non-nuke (to avoid nuke fears) electric. That means clean burning coal for a while and some newer solar, wind, wave systems.

Bill:

It is, actually, 0.35 MW. Still your point stands strong.

Hi gr,
here in (northern)Germany we have a very simple and reliable fast-charge grid infrastructure. We call it "wind generators" ;-). I hope i`ll find the same in the US on my next journey!


Gr,

I'm glad your wind turbines are working well. We have them in the US also and they work very well except when you need them. During the California heat wave last summer when electric generation was stretched to the max, the wind turbines in the state were operating at less than 5% of their rated capacity.

People will have to get power from where the grid comes into their home for their BEV's, or PHEV's, if they want a fast charge. For PHEV's it doesn't matter so much as when you are home you can just leave it plugged in until the next time you need to use it..

And except for commercial vehicles most cars, spend most of their time parked, not running.

The process to where we have all electric vehicles, and ubiquitous rapid charge stations, with long lasting batteries isn't going to be a reality for some time. But we are going to move there one step at a time I believe.

Even in a small ev your dealing with HUGE power draws to get even 30 minute recharge times. The result is a cable that qeighs more then most people can handle and is stiff as hell and hard to handle AND incredibly expensive. Even a few feet of such cable will cost several 1000 bucks.

Also at such high power levels electricty can do some amazing and rather freaky things. O and one last problem.. a minor glitch realy... you cant actauly get that much power anyway. 95% of america you wont be able to get anywhere near that much power and the rest.. it will cost you prolly 300k to install the equipmenr just to get the power to you much less recharge the car.

The rapid recharge will be handled at stations, just as filling up a car is done at a commercial station designed specifically for the task.

The point of a rapid recharge is for those who are doing roadtrips or who require driving more than the given range.

EV range has already reached the level where the vast majority of people's demands will be met.(What percentage drives more than 150 miles/day?)

These are people who will by the Miev and who will plug it in at night, when a full charge requires 4 hours and excess energy is available for cheap off the grid.

Which points out an additional benefit of EVs, you can recharge them nightly, like you do an Ipod, Laptop or Cell Phone.

Traditional cars, even hybrids can't refuel in your home, thus making them less convenient.

PHEVs are a stop gap that will convince people of the feasibility of all electric vehicles, however we should try to move beyond them as soon as possible because the weight of the ICE will greatly reduce efficiency and range.

As for the issue of batteries that will be an issue that corrects itself quickly due to ever advancing consumer electronics.

Due to demand for longer lived laptops and cell phones battery technology is flourishing.

I believe that MIT this year created a new Li+ battery by useing a Virus to plate gold into the smallest and most efficient anode and cathode yet devised. They claim they will be able to construct a battery with 3X the capacity a conventional Li+ battery.

With that invention in 2006, by 2010 is it so hard to believe we will have batteries that allow for EVs with ranges of 200-250 miles?

By 2015 will we not be at 300-350 miles?

Initially price will be high, but with mass production the price will come down and eventually ranges on EVs will exceed those of cars today.

And with Solar technology improving,(40.7% solar panel efficiency recently announced by Boeing, and nanosolar paint allowing every surface to act as an energy generation point, solar energy may achieve $.05/KWH. Boeing claims that 40.7% efficiency will allow $.08/KWH so $.05 is feasibly). At $.05 the cost of electricity will compete with coal and reduce power costs for most Americans.

It would also bring be equivalent to paying $.5/gallon to recharge your EV, a price which will not drastically change in the future. Gas on the other hand will soar past $5/gallon eventually making EVs 10 times cheaper to refill.

This may be a bit down the road, say 10 years, but the Miev and R1E are proof that affordable, practical EVs are two years away.

If they were offered in the US I am sure they could sell 20-30,000 units easily.

Now compare such an EV to the FCX or GM Sequel.

Honda plans on leasing the units and including a home refueling station that will generate H2 through a home's natural gas line.

While this sidesteps greatly the problems of an H2 infrastructure,(350 mile range makes only road trips impossible), but does generate CO2 and depends on a non-renewable resource that the US is rapidly running out of. The price of which would soar through the roof, and being non-renewable would only increase with time, while renewable solar electricity will only decrease with time and continued breakthroughs.

Electrolysis would also allow every home to refuel with H2 but since the process will never be 100% efficient, it will never generate fuel for a vehicle as cheaply as simply plugging in an EV to the grid at night, or recharging through private solar or wind energy.

I suppose the general fear of my post consists of Honda seemingly cowtowing to the current view that the future of Energy is a Hydrogen economy. Such an infrastructure would cost trillions and take decades to build, by which time alternative energy tech will have reached the point that cheap, clean energy generation, combined with batteries many times more energy dense than those today, will allow for EVs that can seat 5 and have a range of 1000 miles or more.

Aircraft will be able to fly useing bio-fuels such derived from bio-diesel, celulosic ethanol, bio-butanol, bio-methanol or what ever mix needed.

Far flung communities will be able to harness wind, solar, ect to generate local power onsite.

At no point in the distant future will hydrogen make sense, yet when asked about 50 years down the road all politicians and most Americans spout nonsense about the hydrogen economy.

I don't want to see good money, that could help accelerate the advance to the electric/biomass economy, squandered on pipe dreams and pet projects.

I sincearly hope that Honda is only covering their bases and compeating with the GM Sequel, and dosn't plan to invest too heavily in fuel cells, because they are not the future of transport.

If GM wants to plow billions into the Sequel and its descendents, hoping to leap frog Toyota and Honda, they are truely doomed.

For in the short term Honda and Toyota have the most Hybrids, by which they will try to lock down the majority of advanced battery supplies and expertise in engineering them into production models.

I imagine that many of you are right, they will be the big boys when EVs finally come round and take over.

After all, GM did abandon the EV-1 and came late to the party on Hybrids because they spent so much time and effort on fuel cells.

Toyota and Honda where the first to bring Hybrids and Toyota is going to aggressivly push the Prius Plug in in 2008/2009. These innovators will, hopefully learn from Mitshubishi, Nissan and Subaru, and then build EVS of superior quality and bring them to our shores.

At least I hope so, because I cannot and will not buy and car that is not a Honda or Toyota, not when the bible of automotive issues, consumer reports, keeps ranking these two companies models as the most reliable and best overall values.

Your thoughts?

Adam,

FWIW, I agree with you on hydrogen-it is the automotive power source of the future and will remain so as long as government research money holds out. BEV for commuter cars and PHEV for longer trips will happen.

Rapid recharge (less than an hour) for a BEV will take a very high power and expensive circuit. I personally don't see that happening anytime soon.

It sounds like 2 low production EVs will enter certain US market next year. The Tesla sportscar @ $100k and the Phoenix Motors 4 door truck @ $50k. A years worth of production is sold out on the Tesla. We will have to see how the marketplace treats the truck. Both vehicles are fully capable and interstate worthy according to their press releases. The truck has a more limited range, presumably to save on the battery cost.

I personally don't expect solar to be used to charge BEV or PHEV. Solar is available for about 6 hours a day and generally this is not when the vehicle is at home.

Where PV solar may expand is for domestic generation. It may be able to compete economically with grid electricity in some markets (desert southwest sunshine and high retail electricity cost) where they let you spin the meter backwards. PV, unlike most generating technologies, scales down well.

Centralized utility solar will not be able to compete with coal or nuclear without serious subsidies. Thermal solar has better economics for utilities than PV. PV has a ways to go before it beats thermal for utilities on cost.

I expect by 2040 the most common car will be a h2 mild ev multifuel car.

Basicaly a cheap combo mega cap plastic batteriy wll hok up to a fuel cell that both hooks into a a twin 15k psi tank h2 setup AND takes anything any combo 4-5 gallon fuel tank that you fill with ANYTHING hydrocarbony. Ethanol biofuels gas carsene butanal grease dme watever liquid hydrocarbon you have and then it turns that into h2 on board to run the fuel cell. Or as secondary more robust and smaller utput fuel cell that can grind any hdrocarbon source into power.

Such a car will likely have a 500 mile range and will likely get 120-150 mpg equive. And by 2040 it willlikely cost less then a gas car.

Main reason for this is I dont expect lithium batteries to get cheap enough nor powerfu7l enough for mainstream use. I also dont expectglobal warming to be kind on any of our biocrops. I expect the worst because generaly humans manage it.

I think a battery dominant FC design makes sense. With a hydrocardon reformer you could use ethanol or methanol from bio sources. It may not take as long as 2040, it could depend on things like peak oil, access and comsumption growth rates.

I think Doc Brown from "Back to The Future" had the most practical idea I've seen - build a time machine so that we can go 50 years into the future, have a "Mr. Fusion" retrofitted into a current car, and run that car off of orange peels and coffee rinds.

On a more serious note, I fail to understand why EVs are continually dismissed because of the challenges to the infamous, "5-minute charge time." For non-commercial transportation uses, when did this ever become a requirement? For that small percentage of commuters who cannot get to work and home within the confines of a 150-mile range (and we already know we can at least triple that with present day technology), yes, a pure EV might not work - but what about the other 99% of the public?

Quote
Bill Young wrote:
I'm glad your wind turbines are working well. We have them in the US also and they work very well except when you need them. During the California heat wave last summer when electric generation was stretched to the max, the wind turbines in the state were operating at less than 5% of their rated capacity.

Hi Bill Young
it doesen`t matter if wind generators are working or not. Its only important that you have a 20 Kvolt grid available nearby for fast charging and nearby wind turbines you always have it!

150 mile max range cars would be fine if we had electric roadways so that range was off grid range. But otherwise... its simply too bloody little.

You can pour and whine all you want its not enugh range.

Meanwhile the fuel cell cars already have 350 mile ranges 8 years before first deadline and they have the fuel waaay down in cost.

They are going h2 and ev because they dont trust ev to do enough. And they are right.

They are going ev h2 and biofuels because they arnt paid to TRUST that on or the other will work. They KNOW the limits of current batteries, They know how far they have come o h2 and they know what biofuels entail.

The FACT is they are paid to make sure no matter what we keeping working. That means EVERYTHING that can work will be made to work if at all humanly possible.

As for why h2 over ev... because h2 is LREADY USED.Its already worth improving. oh and guess what its used to make BETTER BIOFUELS.

It also happens to be the one fuel source that will work no matter what the target country lacks. Its the universalbackup. If all else fails hope they get h2 cheap enough.

Because guess what kids.. batteries are bnot garanteed to work mainstream even with every push they have made its just not going to get there. And biofuels.. how many people already have guessed the blazingly obvious fact that quite a fewplaces will put thier faith in a fuel source they cant actauly grow once the climate changes?

See THE difference is they are paid to think the worst and plan for it you on the other hand can hope for the best.. and fail.

why all this focus on low cost , it does seem to be a national pastime in the US , if you put the same energy into technology american industry might just get somewhere instead of being lapped by the japonese at every turn.
Here in europe for example if you go shopping for a domestic fridge you have the choice between the european models most of which are rated at 350-400 Kwh per year and then the american models GE etc rated at 2000 kwh + per year and then the far easten models which tend to follow the european trend towards lower power reciveing the A class rating . Why is it that american industry is going in the oppisite direction to the rest of the world , the large industrys in the land of plenty seem to hell bent on lapping all the plenty up !
It seems to me that in america within industrys when a new technogly is suggested for implmentation into a product to make the product more efficent ,it is thrown out at the first hurdle , cost ! The reverse is true of hydrogen, which brings me to belive that it is just the auto industry wishing to continue its cosy realationship with big oil , which I have no doubt will become big hydrogen .
Hydrogen is not the answer to our current problems , it is indeed just a diversion down a long road of an oil type consumpsion driven enconomy similar to what we have now .

First, let me repeat what was said earlier, when cars operate as a EV, they get about .35 KWHs per mile, or about 3 miles per KWH. So with a 150 mile range, the battery would at least require a 50 KWH recharge. So with a charge rate of 50 KW, you could recharge in 60 minutes. However, if we charge at home off a 220 Volt, 40 amp circuit, we can only recharge at about 8KWs, so it would take about 8 hours. If you used a 3 phase, 480 volt, 100 amp charger, you could charge at about 80 Kw and be done in less than 40 minutes, so you could recharge while you eat at a commercial outlet such as "McGridburgers."

But a better solution is to drive a PHEV that runs on B100 or E100, with a 20 KWH battery. Thus for the short daily commutes, less than 60 miles, the ICE would never run, and for trips, the ICE would recharge with renewable fuel.

Why the obsession with long range EVs. First it is unwise to stay in the driver's seat for more than 60 to 90 minutes without at least a 10 minute break. That means at most a 100 mile range is needed. A 50 mile range could satisfy 95% of daily commutes. If you need to go farther drive something else. In my situation more than 50 miles in a day is roughly once a week. Even on that day I don't exceed 100 miles. Consider the average driver that travels under 40 miles/day in a BEV 6 day/week and say 120 miles one day/week. That's 360 mi/wk. Suppose on the 120 mile day he drives a vehicle that gets 20mi/gal. That works out to 6 gallons/wk at 60 mi/gal combined. That is more than triple the current average use of gasoline in the US. That eliminates 6MM bbl/day of oil imports.

I think if you ask people about the second car being a BEV they would say sure. But when you get down to people actually paying $20k for a car with less utility, there might be another result.

I sure hope ALL car companies read these comments. I am amazed at how smart most of you all are. I wonder if any american car companies have these conversations.

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