Last part in a series on the state of electric cars for the American consumer
Honda’s EVs play second fiddle to Hydrogen
While Honda plans to bring a Fit EV to market in the United States in 2012, the hydrogen fuel cell powered Honda FCX Clarity became EPA certified in July 2002, ten years prior. In 2003 the first public corporation received an FCX Clarity and in 2005 the first individual customer received a vehicle. While many bemoan the lack of infrastructure supporting electric vehicles (EVs), we would have to say that the hydrogen charging station infrastructure proves even more challenging. Currently there are 86 stations in the United States (over 30 in California) and 116 more internationally. Not much support for a vehicle that has been publicly available for almost 6 years. We feel that this point underscores the effort that Nissan has made globally to put in place an EV charging infrastructure and encourage EV friendly government policy. The end of 2011 will see thousands of private and public Level 2 charging stations deployed throughout the U.S.
While Honda has put forth significant time and money into the FCX Clarity development, they have not been nearly as aggressive in the EV market. Just two months ago Honda started a Fit EV developmental program. All of three vehicles will be included in the program – one each for the City of Torrance, California, Stanford University and Google in the United States. Also the City of Torrance will test a plug-in hybrid Accord for Honda. The plug-in hybrid, in its current state of development poses no threat to the Chevrolet Volt. It currently provides a range of 10-15 miles of all-electric driving with a top speed of 62 miles per hour. Honda also announced an Electric Vehicle Testing Program with the Saitama Prefecture in Japan. In addition to the Fit EV and Honda plug-in hybrid, they plan on evaluating an electric scooter and an electric cart. Clearly Honda feels that the electric car poses no threat of being a desirable commodity by the millions of drivers around the globe.
We hope that our analysis of 5 other major manufacturer’s current electric vehicle plans has been helpful in assisting your decision making process. As can be seen, the level of commitment varies significantly from one maker to another. Chevrolet certainly has garnered much attention with the plug-in hybrid Volt. Marketed as an “Extended Range Electric Vehicle” it is never-the-less a hybrid powerplant, requiring everything that a gasoline vehicle requires in the way of maintenance and fuel. It may use less gasoline than a Chevrolet Cruze, but for many (if not most), it will still burn gasoline.
As we write this article, the cost of a gallon of regular grade gasoline in San Diego is about $3.50. According to the Lundberg Survey, the current average price of regular grade gasoline in the United States is $3.18. We are old enough that we remember gas prices of under $.50 per gallon. Of course, back then it was leaded regular gasoline. Our belief is that the price of gasoline will continue to rise making the economic case for moving to an electric vehicle more compelling. Notwithstanding the economics, the case for burning less fossil fuels is pretty compelling on its own in our book.