Honda debuts all-new electric vehicle concept and a plug-in hybrid platform at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Honda Motor this afternoon unveiled an all-new electric vehicle concept and a plug-in hybrid platform at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The event, which marked the first time ever that Honda Motor Co. Ltd. President and CEO Takanobu Ito has introduced a global vehicle debut at the LA event, also saw the company reflect on how years worth of focus on environmentally friendly technologies have culminated in the unveiling of both the Fit EV and a new plug-in hybrid platform. Both will hit showrooms in 2012.

Honda Fit EV Concept

The five-passenger Fit EV, which will be powered by a lithium-ion battery and coaxial electric motor, will also be able to reach 90 mph (145 km/h) as well as be fully rechargeable in under 12 hours using a standard 120-volt outlet.

Plug-in Hybrid Platform

Honda’s new plug-in hybrid platform, which incorporates the company’s cutting-edge two-motor hybrid system, meanwhile, is designed to switch among three different modes — all-electric, gasoline-electric and engine direct-drive — in order to provide the best in driving efficiency. In all-electric mode, motorists traveling in the city will get 10-15 miles worth of driving between charges with a 120 kW electric motor. In gasoline-electric mode, drivers will benefit from the fuel-efficient 2.0-liter, i-VTEC inline four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine combined with an electric Continuously Variable Transmission. In direct-drive mode, drivers will be able to more efficiently travel at high-speeds since only the engine drives the front wheels.

During the LA event, which was webcast live, Ito reflected on how his company’s focus on developing environmentally friendly electrification technologies has paved the way for today’s announcements.

“Ultimately we must advance from using less petroleum to using no petroleum and change from producing fewer CO2 emissions to producing zero CO2 emissions,” said Ito. “A change of this scale is not easy for the customer, for the infrastructure or for automakers. Of course the move toward electrification did not begin today. The process evolved over the past two decades including our EV Plus.”

John Mendel, American Honda Motor Co. Inc.’s executive vice president, noted that his company’s EV Plus made its debut 13 years ago, in 1997, at the LA show.  He acknowledged that many prospective vehicle buyers at that time weren’t ready to take the plunge and go the electric vehicle route. Nonetheless, Honda learned from the experience as is now better off because of it.

“[W]e gained a tremendous amount of experience from the [EV Plus] effort that we’ve applied to all of our advanced technology vehicles,” said Mendel. “For Honda, there are no one-shot vehicles. Each approach is part of a strategy to advance us to a better understanding of the customer and of the technology.”