Honda, Ford Unveil Plans for EV Models – Los Angeles Times

29 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Honda, Ford Unveil Plans for EV Models – Los Angeles Times

Nissan Prairie Joy

Autos: The pricey vehicles underscore the affordability factor of electric power sources.

Honda Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co. unveiled their plans Monday for joining California’s electric car parade, showing off minivan and pickup truck models at the Los Angeles Auto Show that will take their places behind General Motors’ EV1 on the roster of zero-emission vehicles.

But even the Honda vehicle, the first to be powered by the next-generation battery technology called nickel-metal hydride, illustrates the continued limitations–and high cost–of the electric power sources now available.

Honda‘s four-seat EV Plus, which will be leased through just three Southern California dealerships and one in Sacramento starting in May, also will be the first electric family-size vehicle introduced by a major auto manufacturer.

GM’s EV1, which was introduced Dec. 5 at Saturn dealerships in Southern California and Arizona, is a two-seater.

Honda’s battery pack, which the company concedes is still in the development phase, has twice the energy and life span of the lead-acid battery used in GM’s EV1 and the new Ford Ranger EV pickup. But the Honda also needs eight hours to charge and cool down, compared with the three-hour recharging time for the EV1.

Moreover, the nickel-metal hydride batteries add $20,000 to the cost of the car, bringing the suggested retail price up past $53,000–if Honda were selling them. But to make them more affordable, Honda is offering the cars by 36-month lease only at a monthly payment of $499.

Honda admits the model introduction is more a subsidized experiment than mass-market pitch. It plans to lease just 300 of the cars over the next two years, and says a primary objective of the introduction is get consumer feedback on what they want in an electric car.

So far, the market for electric cars is drastically limited by the cars’ high cost and limited range. Honda says its EV Plus has a real world range of 60 to 80 miles before needing recharging, roughly comparable to the EV1.

The Japan-based auto maker says its battery pack’s greater energy is offset by the car’s weight, which is considerably greater than the EV1. Thus, the two vehicles go about the same distance on a single charge.

Also Thursday, Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford unveiled its Ford Ranger EV pickup, a copy of its gasoline-powered truck, but powered by the same lead-acid battery technology as the GM entry. It can go as far as 60 miles per charge. Ford said the vehicle will not go into production until November and won’t be delivered until early 1998.

The truck can be bought or leased nationwide and Ford hopes to take 1,000 orders this year.

Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan and Chrysler also are expected to introduce electric-powered vehicles over the next year as they prepare for 2003, when at least 10% of all new cars offered for sale in California must be emission-free.

But the bulk of consumers will wait to make the plunge until batteries reach the market that offer drivers greater driving range at a lower price, said J. David Power, chairman of Agoura Hills-based J.D. Power Associates, a market information firm.

We are all waiting for the big breakthrough, which is the battery technology, Power said. Up until then, you get some experience. You can test a car in the laboratory, but there is quite a difference between the lab and what the consumers will do when they have a vehicle in their hands.

Ford said it will introduce a nickel-metal hydride version of the Ford Ranger in the 1999 model year, but said that will add $12,000 to $15,000 to the price.

At least three companies are racing to develop affordable nickel-metal hydride batteries: Ovonics Battery Co. of Troy, Mich. of which Honda and General Motors are stockholders; Matsushita of Japan; and SAFT of France.

Honda said it is using batteries from both Ovonics and Matsushita in its EV Plus.

Nissan Prairie Joy

The Auto Show starts Saturday and continues at the L.A. Convention Center through Jan. 12.


Electrical Parade

Now that General Motors’ EV1 has gone on sale, other major manufacturers are lined up to test the California market for electric vehicles:


Company Model Style Price Date Chevrolet S-10 Pickup $33,135 Early 1997 Honda EV Plus Minivan 53,999 May 1997 Toyota RAV4 EV Sport utility 42,000 Fall 1997 Ford Ranger EV Pickup 32,000 January 1998 Chrysler EPIC Minivan NA Early 1998 Nissan Prairie Joy 4-seat family NA Early 1998


Note: Prices and dates are estimates

Sources: Electric Vehicle Assn. of America, company representatives

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