Honda Not Jumping On The "Lithium-Ion Powered Hybrids Bandwagon"

March 24, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

Honda Motor Co.’s CEO, Takeo Fukui, has revealed that the company is not planning on incorporating lithium-ion batteries into its hybrid vehicles. Fukui stated that the batteries are still too unreliable, and not durable enough, for mass-produced vehicles.

Honda is scheduled to debut its dedicated hybrid (which uses standard nickel-metal hydride power packs) early next year. The company released the Civic Hybrid into the Korean market last year, but plans on unveiling a smaller hybrid vehicle in 2009. For the American market, the company is in the final stages of developing an all-new hybrid based on the 1.8-liter Civic engine which will be mated to an entirely new electric motor and control unit. While it will be able to accommodate lithium ion batteries at some future stage, the model set to be released will use current nickel-metal hydride technology.

Much of Honda’s hesitation regarding lithium-ion technology is said to involve the battery pack’s tendency to overheat during long periods of use. Nonetheless, Fukui also added that Honda is working with battery makers to produce its own lithium-ion solution, thus insisting that his company is not behind in research. This has led to some speculation that Honda is opting for nickel-metal hydride technology due to its lower cost.

Two of Honda’s main Japanese competitors in hybrid vehicles, Mitsubishi and Toyota, are planning to introduce vehicles with lithium ion technology as early as 2009 and 2010, respectively. Other automakers, including General Motors and Daimler, are also making a lithium ion battery push, most notably GM, which is throwing a massive effort behind the technology as the backbone of its Volt effort.