The same week that General Motors unveiled the production version of its Volt
extended range EV, Honda R&D president Masaaki Kato downplayed the importance of plug-in hybrids
, at least in the short term. While GM and Toyota are both developing hybrid vehicles
with plug-in capability and a wide array of manufacturers are planning full battery electric vehicles
, Honda doesn't believe that battery technology is where it needs to be for plug-in vehicles to be commercially viable. The company believes the latest lithium ion batteries are still too costly, heavy and low in energy density to meet consumer demands. For the time being, Honda will focus on its upcoming new hybrid models as well as developing fuel cell
technology. Honda's FCX Clarity
already has a range of 280 miles on 4 kg of hydrogen
and the company believes it can make more improvements more easily there than with batteries. Honda doesn't rule out a plug-in at some point, but whenever we've talked to them over the last two years they've given no indication of when.