While Japanese manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Subaru all work feverishly to get their electric vehicles on to the market, Honda Motors has decided to stay above the fray, arguing that battery development is too premature to make electricity logical for automotive use. The decision stands in stark contrast not just to the rest of the industry, but its own dedicated hybrid efforts.

Honda's Research & Development Chief, Masaaki Kato, stated that even the most advanced lithium-ion batteries have poor energy density levels, making them too inefficient for cars. According to Kato, the electric car's limitations mean that the technology will be relegated to limited-range city-cars, and that in 2015 they will still "account for less than 1% of the market in developed countries," making them a poor focus point for Honda.

While its stance on electric-powered vehicles may be strange by industry standards, Honda has not been shy to stray from the path in regards to new energy-efficient technology such as hybrids either. While most manufacturers employ hybrids in large cars to improve their mileage figures, Honda's largest hybrid is the mid-size Civic - instead the Japanese manufacturer is focusing on putting hybrids into small city cars, where they see the most benefit. The company just last week released its first photos of the upcoming 2010 Insight hybrid concept (pictured), a prime example of its small-car philosophy, though not quite as small as the original Insight.

For their part, other carmakers agree that small-car, short-distance travel is all that can be accomplished with the current level of technology, but unlike Honda, they are pushing forward with development despite the barriers. "For the time being, the most realistic approach is to use pure electric vehicles for short-distance travel," said Toyota's research and development chief Masatami Takimoto. "So in the early stage of the 2010s, we would like to offer a compact, very small electric vehicle on a small-scale basis."

Meanwhile, Subaru is also expected to begin fleet sales of an electric-powered car next year. Nissan is already undertaking full-scale tests of EVs in Japan's Kanagawa Prefecture and is preparing to help Renault and Shai Agassi's Project Better Place with similar test-runs in Israel and Denmark.