Honda is envisioning what it calls a CO2-free society and, not surprisingly, it's a rather sunny one, in one Japanese city, at least. The Japanese automaker is kicking off a test program with the micro-electric-vehicle that will use power generated via photovoltaic energy collected and stored at EV charging stations. Yes, the big old sun will power those little-bitty MC-β cars.

MC-β is shorthand for "Micro Computer Beta" and the car is certainly an appropriate vehicle for these tests. The car is 98 inches long (about eight inches shorter than a Smart ForTwo) and has a 43-mile-per-hour top speed as well as an electric motor that delivers a meager eight horsepower. The car is designed to meet Europe's quadricycle regulations and has a 50-mile single-charge range. No word on if or when it'll go into production, of course, but Honda and Toshiba are working with Japan's Miyakojima City on the project, with Toshiba responsible for building three solar-powered EV-charging stations.

The Japanese automaker unveiled the latest incarnation of the 1+1 tandem-seating-arrangement MC-β last fall. You can see our "Quick Spin" impressions of the model here and read Honda's press release below.
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Honda Begins Experimental Test-driving of MC-β Micro-sized EV Using Renewable Energy

TOKYO, Japan, January 28, 2014 - Jointly with Miyakojima City and Toshiba Corporation, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. began experimental test-driving of the MC-β, Honda's micro-sized EV, using photovoltaic (PV) energy as part of the Miyakojima City Small-sized Electromotive Mobility Project*1. Through this experimental program, Honda will operate an environmentally-responsible micro-sized EV using renewable energy, and work together with the local community to explore the possibility of a CO2-free society.

In November 2013, Honda began separate field tests jointly conducted with Kumamoto Prefecture, Saitama City and Miyakojima City using the MC-β. For the field tests in Miyakojima City, as a part of the initiative as an environmentally-responsible model city, the feasibility of the introduction and utilization of small-sized electromotive mobility products and electricity supply facilities are being verified.

For this particular driving experiment in the city using renewable energy, the MC-β will be charged from three new PV recharging stations newly built by Toshiba. The test will explore the potential usage patterns and needs of small-sized mobility products in a mobility environment unique to remote islands, where the travel distance is short and energy resources for mobility such as gasoline are procured from off the island.

This test will also verify the effects of CO2 emissions and energy cost reduction, and verification results will be utilized in the effort to establish mobility and energy models which will fit in with a recycling-oriented society, a requirement for the next generation.

On January 28, 2014, Miyakojima City held an ceremony at its PV recharging station. One of the attendees at the ceremony, Mr. Takeo Kiuchi, Senior Researcher of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. commented: "This experiment that verifies the potential of a CO2-free society represents the very activities Honda is pursuing in the effort to realize 'the joy and freedom of mobility' and 'a sustainable society where people can enjoy life.' I expect that this initiative will serve as a trigger for people to reconsider the value of this wonderful natural environment of Miyakojima Island for generation after generation."

Honda will continue to be proactive in proposing next-generation mobility products which expand the joy and fun of mobility, and suitable city planning for each community, while striving to minimize the environmental footprint of such mobility products and city planning.

A project in which Miyakojima City, Toshiba Corporation and Honda work together in the effort to propose usage models of micro-sized EVs in the environment of a remote island.

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