The automotive industry knows it can’t rely solely on the dwindling reserves of fossil fuels, and is exploring new means of powering cars and vehicles. Up until now, we’ve seen quite a lot of interesting power alternatives, but by far the most popular power trains use hybrid and all-electric technologies.
Honda also realized that the next few years will be dominated by such models, and has revealed its future plans concerning hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full electric cars. It will still continue to research its pioneering hydrogen fuel cell technology, but we’re still far away from seeing prototypes like the FCX Clarity on our roads.
Until then, according to Honda, we will see various test vehicles around Japan and in the USA. They will preview two new models: an all-electric and a plug-in hybrid. Both are scheduled to appear in 2012.
These prototypes will begin testing later this year in select regions from Japan (Kumamoto and Saitama), as well as regions from the USA, thanks to participants like Stanford University, software and search engine giant Google Inc. and the City of Torrance, California. The latter will receive a special plug-in hybrid prototype at the end of the year.
Until those models hit the market, Honda has also revealed that the new Civic hybrid will be the first model in the range to boast lithium ion battery technology, in order to enhance its performance. The old battery pack will be replaced starting with the 2011 model year Civic hybrid.
Besides conducting real life tests with the electric and hybrid prototypes, Honda will also begin testing, in its native Japan, ‘next generation personal mobility devices’. This basically means alternative means of transportation, like scooters or carts, which will use different types of energy. These vehicles will get their power from a variety of sources, including electric motors, hybrid assemblies or even solar panels attached to the exterior. After these prototypes are being tested in Japan, Honda will also take them to the aforementioned American regions.
The company isn’t neglecting other regions of the world, as it has special products lined up for Europe and mainland Asia. For inhabitants of the Old Continent, Honda will launch a compact diesel model, boasting improved fuel efficiency and low emissions. Given the low appetite for diesel cars in North America or Japan, you can be sure that the compact will stay in Europe.
For Asian territories like China or Indonesia, Honda will aim at making new motorcycles, in order to attract people who can’t afford conventional cars. As such, new factories will be opened while the dealership presence will be reinforced.
The Japanese company will aim at improving its Integrated Motor Assist hybrid technology, in order to make it more efficient and powerful. The main goal is to overtake Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is present on cars like the popular Prius.
Overall, Honda is definitely making sure its future is secure in terms of alternative fuels, and wants to make sure that its models will have established presences on the future electric and hybrid markets all around the world.