Honda: Fuel Cells Before Plug-Ins

September 23, 2008
Honda is still skeptical about plug-in hybrid technology, according to Bloomberg News by way of our diesel-loving friends over at Jalopnik. Voicing a concern that many engineers have about the viability of electric-only and predominantly electric vehicles coming soon to the U.S. market, Masaaki Kato of Honda R&D, feels "battery technology needs to advance further" before electric vehicles become viable, widespread, and popular in today's marketplace. The company hints at impending PR nightmares if companies get the electric battery technology wrong, and claims it is for now sticking with development of hydrogen fuel-cell technology like that in its FCX Clarity.

These concerns in spite of the huge PR wins enjoyed today by Chrysler with its announcement of an impending electric/E-REV fleet, and GM's huge Chevy Volt announcement last week. This type of hand-wringing caution from the same company that gave us the breathtaking, fresh-thinking NSX and cult-status CRX decades ago, when everybody else was churning out dowdy Paseos, Cavalier Z24s, and Dodge Sundance Coupes? Not to mention, one of the first to market with a viable hybrid in the form of the first Honda Insight?

With even Toyota promising a plug-in Prius in the future, we'd like to hear more fresh ideas and exciting plans from Honda, and less overblown, hypenated techno-geekery (SH-AWD) clothed in barely new wrappers like the '09 Acura RL. Yawn.

And again, no one's proven fuel cells are going to make it in large numbers before you're too enfeebled to own one.

Is Honda playing it too safe and simply not want to invest the huge sums necessary to fully develop lithium-ion batteries, or are they wise not to jump on the E-REV bandwagon? Give us your thoughts.--Colin Mathews

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