Honda Motor Co. said it would launch an electric car and plug-in hybrid model in 2012 in the U.S. and Japan, joining the race to manufacture battery-powered cars in which rivals have already taken slight leads.
The launch of the plug-in vehicles is timed to meet tough regulations, including a new rule in California that will require three percent of an automaker’s sales in the state to be zero-emission vehicles from 2012.
Honda’s President Takanobu Ito also announced application of a lithium-ion battery in the next-generation Civic Hybrid in 2011.
Over the next year and a half, Honda will roll out a battery-electric vehicle demonstration program in the U.S. with participants including Stanford University, Google Inc. and the City of Torrance, Calif.
Torrance will receive a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for evaluation by the end of 2010, and a battery-electric commuter vehicle will be introduced in the U.S. market in 2012, Honda said in an announcement.