At a test-drive event north of Tokyo, Takanobu Ito (who took over as CEO last year) said that there is a potential for plenty of demand for battery-powered electric cars.
This is the strongest endorsement yet of the technology that his predecessor had long described as impractical and unrealistic. Honda announced last July that it is planning to launch a plug-in hybrid and pure electric car in 2012.
However, it stopped short of laying out a roadmap of how it would contribute to its business. Ito said that it is “starting to look” like there could be a market for electric vehicles (EVs).
Takeo Fukui and Honda’s other former CEOs looked at hydrogen fuel-cell cars as the best zero-emission alternative to combustion engine cars since they have a similar driving range of 500-600 km (310-375 miles) -- unlike the limited reach of battery EVs.
On a full charge, Nissan Motor Co.'s Leaf could only be driven for 160 km (100 miles). Fitting in more batteries to extend the range would make the car prohibitively expensive.
The Leaf, which goes on sale next month, will become the world's first mass-volume electric car. Ito agreed with statements made by Nissan and its partner, Renault SA, that “not everybody needs to drive 500 km a day." Nonetheless, Ito declined to speculate on how big the EV market would get or how soon. [via reuters]