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Honda Bringing New Battery Car, Plug-In To LA Auto Show

Maker switching direction from focus on light hybrids.

by on Oct.27, 2010

Honda is moving into electric power but will continue to push its hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity, the maker says.

Confirming a corporate switch in direction, Honda Motor Co. President and CEO Takanobu Ito will pull the wraps off a pair of new battery cars at the upcoming Los Angeles Motor Show.

While the maker is saving specific details for the November 17th unveiling, it has confirmed that the preview will highlight both a battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, as well as a plug-in hybrid model.

The unveiling underscores Ito’s recent pronouncement that Honda will expand its range of options within the burgeoning electric car market.

Until recently, the maker steadfastly refused to move beyond the mild hybrid approach taken with such models such as the Honda Insight, CR-Z  and Civic Hybrid.  The Honda Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA, system was designed to recapture energy normally lost during braking and coasting, then reuse it to provide an added boost during vehicle launch and acceleration.  But unlike some competitors, like Toyota, with the Prius, Honda’s hybrids could not be run on electric power alone, even for short distances.

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Honda appears to have been reluctant about plug-ins and pure battery-electric models for similar reasons that delayed Toyota’s planned entry into such segments: the capabilities and the cost of lithium-ion batteries.