Honda is skeptical of the electric car as the future of motoring. Tomohiko Kawanabe, president of Honda’s R&D unit, said that “they lack confidence” in EV tech. “It’s questionable whether consumers will accept the annoyances of limited driving range and having to spend time charging them,” he went on to say.

“We are definitely conducting research on electric cars, but I can’t say I can wholeheartedly recommend them,” said Kawanabe, who is an engine specialist. Honda will still sell electric vehicles in the US though, but only to help meet California emission rules. From model years 2012 to 2014, the largest carmakers by volume in The Golden State must sell about 60,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric cars combined. Kawanabe stated that their main goal is to improve the fuel efficiency of new and upgraded models.

Honda has been researching battery powered cars since 1988 and started leasing out the EV Plus in the US and Japan before the turn of the millennium. That car used a nickel-metal hydride battery pack which ran 210 km on a single charge, very good even for today’s standards. The company then shifted to hybrids and hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles; Honda believes that the latter is the ultimate zero-emission vehicle.

Honda’s stand is the opposite of what Nissan believes. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is betting big time on an electric future and will roll out 500,000 units per year across the globe from 2012, starting with the Leaf. Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn said that EVs will make up 10% of the global car market by 2020. Who do you think is right?