TOKYO--One name is conspicuously absent from the electric vehicle hoopla: Honda.
And R&D chief Masaaki Kato says that is for good reason. Honda Motor Co. has no plans to produce electric vehicles.
The battery technology is not ready, he says.
"Nowadays, the most advanced batteries are lithium ion batteries. But even though the size is getting smaller, the density of the energy is still too poor for cars," Kato said.
For the foreseeable future, electric cars will be limited to short-distance city runabouts. By 2015, they will account for less than 1 percent of the market in developed countries, Kato said.
"For personal use, an EV is fine for about 80 percent of your driving, but not for the remaining 20 percent," Kato said here last month.
"So you still need another car to cover all your needs.
"To get the performance of an Accord, in terms of driving range, from today's battery-only drivetrain, we would need to carry 2 tons of batteries. That's no good."
Honda's wariness of electric vehicles contrasts with the optimism of its Japanese competitors.
Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Subaru are planning electric vehicles in the next five years. Those cars will feature lithium ion batteries and have full-charge ranges of around 60 miles.
Today's lithium ion batteries are lighter and more powerful than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in hybrid vehicles. But Honda thinks the batteries are still not powerful enough to warrant their higher price or make a viable vehicle for all-around driving.