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Honda is cold towards the near future of electric cars and I have to agree with them

By Rigval on 25 May 2010

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Honda, the maker of highly efficient petrol powered engines, is quite skeptical about electric cars being the future of the automobile. The president of the Honda Research & Development unit, Tomohiko Kawanabe, stated that the lack the confidence in electric vehicle technology and that it is questionable that consumers will “accept the annoyances of limited driving range and having to spend time charging them”.

While Kawanabe stated that Honda was conducting research of electric vehicles, he said that he still does not recommend them due to limitations in their range and methods of 'refueling'. Like the statement made by the Ferrari CEO reported [url=http://www.mycarforum.com/blog/myautoblog/417/ferraris-ceo-amadeo-felisa-speaks-his-mind-on-future-ferraris/]earlier that Ferrari were only grudgingly adopting hybrid technology, Honda too is doing the same and will sell electric vehicles in the United States of America. The reason being that is has to meet the stringent California emissions regulations where the largest car manufacturers by volume will have to sell a combined total of 60,000 plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles by 2012 or the very latest by 2014.

Honda have been developing battery powered electric cars over the last 22 years and had leased out the EV Plus electric car in America and Japan in the late 1990s. The car had a range of between 160-210km on a single charge which is impressive even by today's standards. It was supposedly loved by those who ran them but them the program was halted. Honda had by the mid2000s switched their priorities towards developing efficient hybrid cars and hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles.

The hydrogen car is what Honda believes to be the ultimate zero emissions vehicle. I suppose this was after all the number crunching and the results from running an electric car long before everyone actually did so.

This is opposite to Nissan's train of thought. They believe that their Nissan Leaf is the first step towards an electric car future which will eventually be sales of about 500,000 units per year across the globe from 2012. Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said that electric vehicles will make up 10% of the global car market by 2020.

This could be the makings of a new VHS or BETAMAX, Blu-Ray or that other format kind of video format war, and someone is bound to lose. For me personally, and those that do long commutes will never fancy electric vehicles as they still have limited range. And it is not really zero emissions per se, unless the source of electricity is clean like solar or hydro electricity. If it is ultimately made from a coal, diesel or even a low emissions gas burning power plant, then it still defeats the ultimate purpose. You may be saving the environment where you drive, but you still consume more energy that is being made somewhere that is not very ecologically friendly.

Furthermore the batteries used in an electric vehicle could have its nickel dug up in Canada, sent to China for processing and packaging, then sent to Japan for another round of packaging at say, Sanyo, Japan, and then to the car manufacturing factory. Then after assembly the car is exported out to America, Canada (a full circle for the nickel in the batteries), Europe and everywhere else around the world. Can you actually imaging the carbon footprint of the battery that is in the electric vehicle? It travels everywhere around the world to get to where we are before we can use it.

And does anyone really know whether the batteries will be properly recycled after they've run their lifespan? These batteries may be sold to scrap dealers in India who have the cheapest labour and therefore very environmentally un-friendly in their means of recycling the nickel in the batteries. In our humid weather, the batteries may not even have very long lifes. As I said earlier, it has to last as long as our hand held telephones for it to be consumer friendly.

My vote is with Honda even though I do not like the hybrid tech which both Honda and Toyota seem to promote. Why have two engines to produce 45mpg when a proper small petrol can even make 55mpg with one efficient petrol engine? This vote of confidence is regardless whatever the outcome is a decade from now.
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-check out that 12v battery in a car with lots of batteries. The thing was at the time a 12v battery was needed to power all the 12v lights, radio etc. I wonder why Honda couldn't make a small enough voltage converter to utilise the large batteries packed into the chassis of the car. Losing the 12v battery could have saved a few kilos upfront. Anyway, this was the 1990s. We were young and naive.
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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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AnthonyE Jul 21 2010 05:40 PM
You're probably longing to have a new electric car, just like I do. I really would love to have an electric auto, but there is no way I will spend the cash on one when I am constantly traveling. As soon as they have a longer battery life and a faster charge, I might discover this automobile worth purchasing. If someone could invent a way for these cars to charge in around an hour's time, both customers and gas stations could benefit. If gas stations put charges at them for electric automobiles, your chances of purchasing something while you waited would be excellent. Even though I won't invest in an electric car today, within the near future I can be tempted to take out an auto loan to purchase one.
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