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Honda Makes Belated, Reluctant Move Into Plug-Ins and EVs

After fast start, maker slow to embrace battery power.

by on Jul.21, 2010

Honda's FCX fuel cell vehicle tanks up at a solar-powered hydrogen station.

It was the first to launch a battery-powered vehicle in the U.S. market, but Honda Motor Co. has been surprisingly reluctant – until now – to embrace the evolving electrification of the auto industry.

While its competitors have pushed into more advanced hybrids, plug-ins, extended-range electric vehicles and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, Honda has stuck with the “mild” hybrid technology it first introduced a decade ago.

But that’s about to change, the Japanese maker says.  It is getting ready an array of battery vehicles that will cover a gamut of applications, says the maker’s CEO, declaring the move “our highest management priority.”

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But will Honda be able to regain the lead it briefly held in the green automotive sector with the launch of its first-generation Insight, a 2-seat hybrid?  Recent offerings, including a new, 4-door version of the Insight, have fared poorly in the U.S. market, despite growing demand for battery-based vehicles.

“Our highest management priority is to establish a corporate structure that ensures a profit while we develop and commercialize advanced environmental technologies,” says Honda President and CEO Takanobu Ito.

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