Honda’s Less-than-electrifying Message


Even Honda is feeling the pressure of Washington’s pick-a-number mandate that manufacturer fleets average 35 mpg by 2016. So the Japanese company made headlines today by announcing it would target the U.S. market for a “mini” electric car in 2015.

But for a company that has built its reputation on engine efficiency, Honda’s date is noticeably late to the game — given that GM, Toyota, and Nissan are all promising plug-ins by next year.

Worse for Washington greens, the Automotive News reports that Honda says “it could take decades for the vehicles to spread due to their high cost, limited driving range and long charging times with the current battery technology.”

Decades?! But what about the Goracles’s goal of all renewables by 2018? Or a Kyoto II promise of 80 percent carbon reductions by 2050 or else? Hasn’t Honda been listening?

Likely, Honda has been listening to a greater authority — its customers. Market watchers have been stunned by the tepid reaction to Honda’s Prius-beater, the Insight. The Insight’s poor sales, despite a wall-to-wall marketing campaign, once again raise doubts of a mass green-vehicle market. Only a few hybrids have gained traction — the Prius accounted for fully half of hybrid sales in 2008.

Despite its cheaper-than-Prius price, the Insight has entered a market where hybrid sales are in decline — down to less than 2 percent of total vehicles sales — despite all the assurances from Beltway pols and media pundits that they are the future.


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