PHOTO CAPTION: Honda Gear concept car designed for urbanites

Honda Plans More E-Drive Models

With US vehicle emission standards ratcheting up steadily with each passing year, Honda plans to bring more electric-drive models to its showrooms.

Published: 13-Jan-2016

At this week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Honda Chief Executive Takahiro Hachigo announced that his company would be launching a new electric hybrid (plug-in) model for 2018. In addition, he stated, the Japanese car maker is also "considering" all-electric models.

Honda was the first carmaker to introduce a production hybrid into the US market in 2000 in the form of its two-seat Honda Insight, which it produced for some 5 years, though sales were anemic. During the short-lived California ZEV mandate period in the late 1990s, it also offered a limited number of pure-electric cars in the state, cars that were subsequently recalled and crushed.

With the introduction of the Toyota Prius into the US market in 2001, Honda responded in 2003 with a hybrid version of the popular Civic. It would also introduce hybrid versions of the Accord and reintroduced a four-door Insight hybrid. Most recently, it leased the Fit EV, again only in California, a battery electric version of the subcompact Fit, as well as a plug-in hybrid version of the Accord.

Hachigo's announcement didn't reveal which brand or model would be powered by the plug-in system. Industry reports say Honda and GM are in negotiations on co-developing PHEV technology. They already collaborate on fuel cell vehicles. Logic would suggest that possibly the Acura line would be a good candidate in which to launch a breakout PHEV, given that brand's focus on performance, where Honda has traditionally been known for economy.

While Honda was unveiling its new urban SUV concept in Detroit, in Montreal, they showcased the Gear, pictured above. Also billed as a vehicle for the urban environment, it might make a good platform for both a hybrid to compete with Toyota's Prius C and as an all-electric city car successor the the Fit EV. Honda isn't saying much at this point about the powerplant or even if they'll actually put the car into production. The fact that they chose the Montreal Auto Show as the debut venue suggests they are being low-key about its future.

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