By Melissa Segrest
Green Right Now
Honda is trying to step up its game in the race to create greener cars, announcing today that it will begin selling an electric car in 2012.
The company hasn’t provided details about how the car’s battery would operate, although it said the vehicles would be “commuter” cars (which means small) with a short cruising range, according to reports.
The CEO of Honda, Takanobu Ito, announced the news today in Japan.
Honda is Japan’s second largest carmaker behind Toyota. It will also produce two larger models of plug-in hybrid cars in 2012, Ito said today. Those hybrids could be capable of getting about 140 miles per gallon of gas, a report said.
Honda has lagged a bit in the big automakers’ race to create cars that are not fueled by gasoline (or with very little gas in hybrids).
Honda does have hybrid models: the Insight and the CR-Z, but rivals Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi took the early lead in producing gasoline-electric hybrids and electric cars.
Mitsubishi started selling its iMiEV electric car early this year. Nissan’s Leaf electric car will be
arriving in the U.S. this year and Toyota is producing an electric car for 2012, according to reports. General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt – a plug-in vehicle – is scheduled to show up in selected showrooms later this year. Ford and Fiat also plan plug-in cars in the next few years.
Other competitors will be a plug-in Prius slated for 2012. The hybrid Prius has become the most popular car in Japan and is also a hot seller in America.
Next year, Honda will also produce a lithium-ion battery for their 2011 Civic hybrid. Sales of both new plug-in hybrids and electric cars will start in Japan and the U.S., and will be rolled out elsewhere over a period of years.
The company outlined the roll-out plans:
By the end of this year through 2011, Honda plans to have the new battery-electric cars tested in the U.S. Test drivers will be from Stanford University, Google Inc. and the city of Torrance, Calif. In Torrance, the company says, test drivers will be behind the wheel of Honda’s plug-in hybrid electric cars by the end of this year.
In his comments, Honda’s CEO said his company has a dim future without cars that don’t create carbon emissions – and the next decade will be crucial, as consumers increasingly look for smaller, greener vehicles.
“The next 10 years will be very critical for Honda to survive in the midst of major changes, at a time of increased environmental awareness and changes in the global economic structure,” Ito said, according to a release.
Honda still advocates hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology as the ultimate solution for green cars, despite the fact that there are very few places to fuel those vehicles, something critics are quick to point out.
Ito said Honda will start selling several smaller hybrid models, including its Fit hybrid, in Japan later this year.
Volkswagon and Hyundai are also planning to produce very fuel-efficient hybrids. Ford and General Motors also plan to produce plug-in cars by 2012.
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