Honda pondering plug-in hybrid as response to U.S. policy changes?




Honda Motor Co., the only company selling hydrogen-powered cars to U.S. drivers, may also develop plug-in electric models as U.S. policy shifts to favor battery- powered autos.
Honda, which began leasing hydrogen fuel cell FCX Clarity sedans in Los Angeles last year, still sees hydrogen as the best long-term alternative to gasoline as a fuel that can cut carbon exhaust tied to global warming, President Takeo Fukui said in an interview. Still, the company will respond to a push by the Obama administration for carmakers to sell plug-ins, he said.
“We understand the situation, in terms of government and incentives,” Fukui said April 23 in Detroit. “Naturally, we’re going to have to accommodate that too.”
We are thinking about plug-in hybrids, but we aren't thinking about commercializing one right away." This is what Honda's President Takeo Fukui said in a recent interview. The automaker, which is leasing hydrogen cars in the U. S. and Japan, thinks of hydrogen as the long-term solution, but competitors and new automotive policies coming out of the White House are forcing the Japanese marque to rethink its policy. The new regulations might be the most important for Honda, because the Obama presidency has yet to say something big about hydrogen cars but speaks about tax breaks for plug-in hybrids and $25 billion in low-cost federal loans for production of advanced technology vehicles. Honda already has a joint-venture to produce batteries, albeit designated for hybrid use, that could be used to produce PHEVs in the future,

Hydrogen may have a future, but the view seems to be that batteries are what we can do reasonably soon,” Becker said.
Automakers must plan for an eventual tightening of global oil supplies and pressure to cut greenhouse gases, Fukui said.
“Oil prices are going to go up. When that time comes, fuel cells, solar panels, hydrogen, those will be the key words,” Fukui said. “We will have packages that will be very competitive at that time.”