Honda Announces Plans to Cut Carbon Emissions with New Cars

Earlier today, Japanese automaker Honda announced that it was ready to start thinking about reducing carbon emissions and start seriously developing for the electric and hybrid automobile market. In that past, Honda has, much like Toyota, shown a lack of interest in electric cars due to the obvious drawbacks electric vehicles tend to have. Paired with the company’s belief that hydrogen fuel cells would ultimately prove the best replacement for fossil fuel powered cars, it seemed that Honda would choose to ignore the full electric market while other automakers signed on. Perhaps seeing the error in their ways, the announcement highlighted several approaches Honda intended to take in developing “advanced environmental technologies”.

Part of the announcement was aimed directly at the U.S. market, with Honda intending to release a battery-electric hybrid in California where other carbon emissions friendly vehicles are frequently showcased. The program partners Honda with Stanford University, Google, and the City of Torrance itself to showcase the new hybrid model by the end of this year with demonstrations continuing well into 2011. The idea behind the demonstrations is to determine if the plug-in hybrid developed by Honda can meet American standards on zero carbon emissions vehicles. Honda is aiming to have evaluation on the model completed to allow for the beginning of sale sometime in 2012.

Honda also said as part of their announcement that they intend to release full electric vehicles to the U.S. market by 2012 that will also boast zero carbon emissions. Much like Toyota’s initial approach to developing electric vehicles, Honda intends for the model to act as a small commuter vehicle that is ideally suited for an urban environment. To power their electric and hybrid cars Honda has developed a lithium ion battery with a company that was formed last year with the GS Yuasa Corporation, a Japanese battery company. Honda intends to debut the new batteries in the 2011 Honda Civic hybrid model.

Despite being slow to the full electric market, and still believing that this is merely a means to their hydrogen fuel cell end, Honda has made previous electric hybrids in their attempt to move in on a carbon emissions aware market. The Honda Insight, which has been in production since 1999, is a gasoline electric hybrid that has enjoyed some success in both Japan and the U.S. As part of their hopes to create a market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Honda also released limited quantities of the Honda FCX Clarity. The FCX Clarity also has zero carbon emissions, though the obvious drawback of limited fuel supply has caused some to doubt similar models could ever truly find a place in the market unless hydrogen becomes more popular.

While it remains to be see if Honda is too late in trying to enter the electric and hybrid markets and cutting carbon emissions, their announcement really comes only a little later than the most recent details about the Toyota Tesla merger. The only way to determine if both companies’ products end up being successes is to wait until they are released and find out what the drivers think.

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