The lack of support infrastructure is one of the major hurdles for alternative fuel vehicles that use batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. Honda’s vision for solar-powered home-based hydrogen production station is one effort to ease the transition from fossil to alternative fuels and now the company has revealed plans to trial a solar-powered public EV charging station and conduct testing of a range of electric vehicles and technologies in real-world urban transportation environments, starting with Japan.

The company’s Electric Vehicle Testing Program will start in the Japanese cities of Saitama, Kumagaya and Chichibu after an agreement reached in 2009 between Honda and Saitama Prefecture to collaborate on environmental issues. The ultimate goal for the program is to achieve what Honda calls “Total Energy Management”– a system that supplies households and communities with energy for personal use, while supporting a comfortable, low-carbon lifestyle.

The program will include EVs, plug-in hybrid vehicles, the EV-neo electric scooter and the Monpal ML200 4-wheel electric cart. It will also examine the effectiveness of solar power generation and other renewable energy sources along with the capability for advanced communications and telematics to improve the convenience and usability of electric vehicles for consumers.

Stateside EV Demonstration Program

The announcement comes less than a week after Honda launched an Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program in the U.S. that will see the city of Torrance, California, along with Stanford University and Google each receiving a
Fit EV for testing in 2011. Additionally, the city of Torrance will test an Accord Sedan test vehicle outfitted with a new two-motor plug-in hybrid system as part of the program in 2012.

"The goal of the Honda Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program is to more fully understand the challenges and opportunities associated with such a fundamental shift in technology," said Tetsuo Iwamura, American Honda Motor Co, Inc., President and CEO. "The city of Torrance and the other participants will play a key role, by providing real-world feedback on their experience. They will help us tackle the important issues surrounding customer adoption of electric vehicles."

Each of the three recipients will conduct general testing as well as evaluating specific and distinct issues related to the introduction of EVs. The city of Torrance will focus on the development of charging infrastructure and building public awareness about EVs.

Honda says it is also considering the possibility of conducting a similar program in China.

View gallery - 14 images