TOKYO--Honda Motor Co., long skeptical of electric vehicles, now plans to develop one, largely because it needs the ultraclean cars to meet tougher U.S. fuel economy and emissions rules.
Honda wants to bring the vehicle to the United States by 2015, Japan's Nikkei business daily reported Aug. 22. Honda confirms an electric car is in the works but says nothing has been decided about when or where it will be launched.
"The most stringent SULEV standards will start around 2010, so we and all manufacturers have to meet that," spokeswoman Yasuko Matsuura said, referring to standards for low-emission vehicles. "Our plans to launch an electric vehicle will depend on the regulations."
California may be allowed to set emissions rules that are stricter than national regulations. In addition, federal law requires 2016 models to average 35.5 mpg, compared with 25.3 mpg this year.
The U.S. government has not decided how to treat electric vehicles under corporate average fuel economy standards. But Honda is among those betting that a zero-emission vehicle will go a long way to boost its fuel economy score.
At least six brands plan to launch electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles in the United States within two years: Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mini, and Ford.