Honda CEO: Honda Studying Battery Electric Commuter Car, But Holds Fuel Cell Vehicle as the “Ultimate Eco-car”
In his remarks prior to the unveiling of the new CR-Z hybrid (earlier post), Honda Motor President and CEO Takanobu Ito said that the company has taken up the challenge to reduce CO2 emissions through advancing various electromotive technologies.
“We understand electric vehicle technology as well as anyone,” Ito said, referencing the development of the EV Plus electric vehicle in the 1990s and its leasing to individual customers in California. Honda is currently conducting research on a short-distance battery electric vehicle as a “city commuter car.” (Earlier post.)
Battery technology continues to be a barrier to mass market use. But we’re studying the US market with a view to introducing this commuter car in the future.
We continue to believe that a fuel cell electric vehicle is the ultimate solution to reduce CO2 emissions. A fuel cell car is a full electric vehicle...The development cost must come down and there must be a major expansion of the hydrogen fueling infrastructure. But make no mistake. As a vehicle, the Honda FCX Clarity [earlier post] is ready now. Further, Honda is unique in making long-term investments to develop the refueling infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles.
This month, we will begin operation of a next-generation solar hydrogen station at our Los Angeles R&D center. This compact system was designed for daily home refueling of a fuel cell electric vehicle. Honda engineers were able to eliminate the compressor entirely to greatly reduce the size of the system to fit in the user’s garage. The potential of a solar hydrogen station is one reason a fuel cell electric vehicle is the ultimate eco-car—the bast path to reduce CO2.
But in the near term, the most important approach to cut CO2 emissions is expanding the use of hybrid electric vehicles. To increase the opportunity for more customers to choose a hybrid, we must be able to meet different needs with family, luxury and sporty hybrid vehicles. We will apply hybrid systems which are compact, lightweight and affordable to a wider range of products in the near future.
President Ito, an engineer by training, worked on developing the chassis for the first-generation Honda CRX in the early 1980s. His career at Honda has included being appointed Executive Vice President, Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in 1998, and Managing Director of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. in 2000. He was working in Ohio 10 years ago on the development of the first-generation Acura MDX.
Times have changed, but the idea of developing vehicles that are both fun to drive and fuel efficient is alive and well.