Tokyo Motor Show may see Honda scaling back on hydrogen

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The day before Honda plans to unveil its first electric car at the Tokyo Motor Show, opening October 21, Honda said October 20 that they may sell electric cars outside the US on demand in 2010.

Honda said that in addition to their specific plans for the US market in 2012, customers in Europe and Japan may be able to order their soon-to-be unveiled  Honda EV-N.

This is the first time the hydrogen-heavy Japanese automaker has spoken so ambitiously of EVs.

Honda has spent its resources on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with little reward: the technology remains too expensive and the necessary infrastructure, such as hydrogen filling stations, is nearly non-existent and rapidly losing funding to electric recharge posts. In Honda's statement October 20, they blamed stringent requirements in California for a lack of favorable hydrogen car incentives, spurring their new interest in EVs.

Increased demand for zero-emissions EVs may also lead to Toyota ramping up EV production ahead of schedule, as they also announced October 20 that they too could improve upon their current EV release schedule, slated for 2012, if demand warrants.

Both automakers seem to be playing catch up with Nissan, currently the EV leader thanks to its Leaf EV, produced in cooperation with French partner Renault. Nissan expects 20,000 orders for the Leaf in the US in 2010 and has announced massive production plans for the US, Japan and Europe.

GM is also planning a big 2010 release for their EV, the Chevrolet Volt, putting Japan's two biggest automakers in a trailing position that they are now saying may need some revision.

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