Honda Thinks Plug-In Technology Not Yet Up To Task

Illustration for article titled Honda Thinks Plug-In Technology Not Yet Up To Task

Apparently, even in light of Chrysler's announcement this morning, Honda thinks all this plug-in hybrid stuff is least until battery technology is up to the task, reports Bloomberg News. Masaaki Kato, head of Honda's research unit, said "For battery-powered vehicles to become more widespread, more popular in the market, we feel battery technology needs to advance further." Kato considers the rapid release of a plug-in hybrid when technology isn't quite up to the task could be a PR disaster, and he hints at such, remarking that the expectations for plug-ins are big and "we don't know that that could be sustained right now." Instead, Honda will continue work on its hydrogen fuel-cell FCX Clarity, which the company considers less technologically challenging than developing advanced batteries. Kato explains the problem with battery-powered vehicles as a simple problem of weight versus energy content: lithium-ion batteries hold less than half the energy by weight of gasoline. While improvements are being made through programs like the Japanese government's advanced battery development program, which has a goal of boosting energy storage capacity by seven times and cutting cost to 2.5% of its current level, there's still a long way to go. "It's impossible to imagine a date at which such a breakthrough could occur,'' says Kato. Placing bets on fuel cells versus batteries may seem like a longshot, but Honda's track record is solid. The company has stayed out of V8 engines and full-size trucks, keeping development dollars focused more on monolithic chrome grilles efficiency, so we wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Honda was the first out with a production fuel-cell vehicle...after which Toyota will more than likely perfect it and sell five million of them. [Bloomberg]


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Considering how Honda has been the only one to consistently stay in the black this summer I might take them at their word.