Planet Gore

Honda Not a Fan of Electric Cars

AEI’s Ralph Kinney Bennett writes:

It is unlikely you have ever heard of Tomohiko Kawanabe. But if you are interested in cars, and particularly the future of electric cars, it might be useful to listen to what he has to say.

The media and assorted environmentalists and green technology types seem eager to assure us that the “future is now” for electric vehicles, or EVs. We are told that people are lining up to order Nissan’s attractive electric four-door Leaf, that anticipation is high for General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt, that the Tesla roadster (even at $100,000 each) is a sports car dream and that other pure battery cars like Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV are ready in the pipeline. Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, expects his company to have the capacity to build half a million electric cars a year by 2012. He and some other EV advocates predict that one out of every ten cars sold by the end of this decade will be battery-powered.

Kawanabe begs to differ.

He is the chief of research and development for Honda Motor Co., a company with a reputation for staying on the technological edge of the automobile. Honda has been seriously working on electric cars since 1988. It gained a lot of real-world knowledge about electrics from feedback on the more than 300 EV Plus nickel-metal hydride battery-powered cars it leased in the United States between 1997 and 2000. Last fall it introduced an electric “concept car,” the EV-N, to show that it is still keeping its hand in the game.

What Honda knows about electric cars is considerable. But what Honda, as one of the world’s leading manufacturers, knows about the car business is even more considerable. And as to the electric part of that business, Kawanabe says “We lack confidence” in it.

The rest here.

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