The Nikkei reports that Honda Motor Co. will introduce battery electric vehicles in the US market in the first half of the next decade. A similar report came from Kyodo News.

Honda will reportedly unveil a prototype of the minicar-sized EV at the Tokyo Motor Show in October.

Of the big Japanese automakers, Toyota and Honda have so far focused on hybrid vehicles. But tougher environmental regulations in the US state of California will likely require major carmakers that sell a certain number of vehicles in that megamarket to increase sales of zero-emission vehicles.

Nissan is concentrating on electric cars, and it plans to introduce them in 2010. Toyota, meanwhile, intends to launch electric cars around 2012. As for Honda, it started selling vehicles powered by fuel cells last summer, a technology that would meet California’s requirement because it does not emit any exhaust. But sales of such cars have been limited by their high prices, prompting Honda to decide to develop electric cars.