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Honda uninterested in plug-in hybrids

Japanese automaker says if it could find the battery power, completely electric cars would be better for the environment than a plug-in hybrid.

Honda is upping its production of gas-electric hybrid cars, but has no immediate plans to develop the kind of hybrid that would recharge from an electrical outlet, the company announced Tuesday.

Honda CEO Takeo Fukui also publicly criticized General Motors for its pursuit of the Chevy Volt at a press conference on Tuesday in Japan.

If that kind of high-performance battery power is possible then carmakers would be better served making a completely electric vehicle from an environmental standpoint, said Fukui, according to the The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Honda is scheduled to release several environmentally friendly vehicles at the 2007 Tokyo auto show this week. Among them may be a hybrid sports car and a diesel-engine car that gets 60 mpg.

GM has been touring its Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric car that it plans to make available to consumers by 2010, across the U.S. since its debut at the Detroit auto show. The Volt could possibly run off lithium-ion battery power alone for about 40 miles, according to GM.

Many critics have raised questions as to whether that battery type, more commonly used in laptops, could be cost effective and energy efficient for car use. GM has said it's developing the necessary technology to make a lithium-ion battery hybrid successful and plans to test out the Volt as soon as spring 2008.

The news follows statements made Monday by Toyota that it's taking its time to develop a plug-in hybrid to address questions of cost, efficiency and consumer interest.