Honda has always been at the forefront of the eco-technological wave, being one of the first to the market with a mass-produced hybrid vehicle with the original Insight hatch and then breaking new ground once again with the hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity. Despite this penchant for innovation, the carmaker chose to stay away from developing a new-generation of plug-in hybrid models despite rivals like Toyota and General Motors heavily investing in the technology.

Honda’s stance was that battery technology needed to be advanced further before plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles could become more widespread and popular. This stance, however, may soon change as U.S. policy shifts to favor such models.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui explained that his company still sees hydrogen as the fuel of the future but will respond to the U.S. government’s push for battery-powered vehicles.

“We understand the situation, in terms of government and incentives,” Fukui told reporters. “We are thinking about plug-in hybrids, but we aren’t thinking about commercializing one right away.”

The incentives Fukui is talking about includes new tax credits for plug-in vehicles that will range from between $2,500 to $7,500, with factors such as battery capacity determining how much owners would receive. Cars like the Chevrolet Volt, due in late 2010, would be eligible for the maximum credit of $7,500. Toyota is also planning to release a plug-in version of its new Prius, and with Honda’s partnership with battery manufacturer GS Yuasa Corp. we could see a plug-in version of the Insight further down the track.


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