Honda Motor Co Ltd announced Dec 20, 2010, that it will start field tests of its electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in Japan.
On the same day, the company showed prototypes of an EV based on the Fit minicar and a PHEV based on the Inspire sedan.
Honda announced a prototype of the EV and the platform of the PHEV at the Los Angeles Motor Show, which took place in November 2010. And the vehicles announced this time were their new versions designed for the Japanese market.
"For expanding the use of EVs, the balance between price and performance is important," Honda President Takanobu Ito said. "It is still difficult to achieve the balance. But there may be markets in specific regions such as rural areas where there is no service station."
Honda will conduct the field tests in Saitama and Kumamoto prefectures in Japan. For each field test, five EVs and five PHEVs will be used. And the company will conduct similar field tests in Torrance, the US, by using three EVs and three PHEVs.
It is also planning to conduct field tests in Stamford, the US, by using the "EV-neo" electric two-wheeled vehicle and the "Monpal ML200" electric cart in addition to EVs and PHEVs.
"Though we have not determined a specific period of time for the tests, it will be about two years," the company said.
In Saitama Prefecture, the vehicles will be tested in various areas depending on their characteristics. For example, in Saitama City, Honda will examine how the EV and the electric two-wheeled vehicle can be selectively used in the areas around train stations.
In Kumagaya City, Honda will test the "Park & Ride" system, which combines EVs, PHEVs and trains in the area around the Kagohara Station. In Chichibu City, the company will establish a system by using the Monpal.
This time, Honda also disclosed a charging station equipped with photovoltaic batteries developed by Honda Soltec Co Ltd. The station has a rapid charger manufactured by Kyuki Corp, a subsidiary of Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc, and three normal chargers manufactured by Nihon Unisys Ltd.
"Supposing that an EV travels 40km per day, we would like to supply electricity to four EVs by using only solar batteries," Ito said.
As for charging technologies, Honda developed a system to monitor the use of chargers, etc in real time by using car navigation systems and smartphones. The system utilizes the company's "Internavi Premium Club" telematics service, which uses a dedicated communication device equipped in the Fit.
Moreover, Honda mounted another communication device on vehicles to collect data on the use of automotive batteries.