GM is actually leading the way on this. What follows was sent out from the CalCars.org mailing list. Personally, I'm a big fan of plugin hybrids.
Until now, Honda has repeatedly said there's no reason to do more
than research on PHEVs (see <http://www.calcars.org/carmakers.html
But maybe the company sees which way the wind is blowing. Of course
it cites battery issues -- but surprisingly, it mentions the time
PHEVs take to recharge as an obstacle. Unless Honda is thinking of
very large and heavy vehicles, which would require 220 volts for an
overnight charge of substantial range, this is a non-issue.
In addition to the story below, Newsweek's Keith Naughton in "Honda
Primes The Pump"
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16526204/si ... k/confirms
Honda's 2-3 years away next optimized-from-the-ground-up hybrid will
NOT plug-in, but will be a larger version of the high-MPG Insight,
priced below the Prius.
Honda mulling plug-in hybrids for development
Reuters Sun Jan 7, 2007
DETROIT, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T: Quote, NEWS ,
Research) said on Sunday it is considering developing a plug-in
electric hybrid vehicle to add to its lineup but battery technology
remains a significant barrier to successful development.
"We are studying what kind of conditions would enable a plug-in,"
Motoatsu Shiraishi, president of Honda Research and Development, told
Reuters on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show here.
Shiraishi said the two major challenges to introducing a hybrid is
the current battery capacity, which has to improve significantly, and
speed of recharging it.
Plug-in hybrids, a favorite among many environmentalists, are capable
of being charged with a standard electric outlet.
Honda rival Toyota Motor Co is the leader in gas-electric hybrids.
General Motors also announced a "concept car" at the show on Sunday
called the Volt, which it says could be on the road in two or three
years and run almost entirely on electricity.
Battery technology is key to the next generation of hybrid vehicles
as automakers seek ways to lower the cost of batteries and increase
their power and storage capacity
GM said the Volt will be outfitted with new lithium-ion battery
packs, which hold a charge longer than the nickel metal hydride
batteries now used widely in automobiles.
Shiraishi said Honda also plans to introduce diesel engines in the
United States by the end of 2009.
Currently, Honda is working to meet the stringent U.S. standards for
cleaner emissions from diesel vehicles, he said.
The Japanese automaker plans to offer diesel engines in mid-size and
larger vehicles, Shiraishi said. But he declined to specify which
model will be first to be fitted with a diesel engine.