TOKYO, July 20 -- Honda Motor Co., Japan's second- largest carmaker, will sell an all-electric car and a plug-in hybrid vehicle in Japan and the U.S. by 2012, CEO Takanobu Ito said.
The carmaker also plans to introduce a hybrid version of its Civic compact powered by lithium-ion batteries within a year, Ito told reporters today in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo.
Honda has previously said it plans to sell an electric car to help meet California requirements for zero-emission vehicles. From model years 2012 through 2014, the largest carmakers by volume in the most populous U.S. state must sell about 60,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric cars combined, according to the state's Air Resources Board.
Honda, based in Tokyo, was previously the only one among the world's largest automakers that hadn't announced plans to sell plug-in hybrids or autos powered solely by batteries.
Nissan Motor Co., Japan's third-largest automaker, will roll out its first lithium-ion battery-powered car, the Leaf, this year in Japan, the U.S. and Europe. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn predicts electric vehicles will account for 10 percent of global car sales by 2020.
Honda's current hybrid line-up includes the Insight and Civic compacts and the CR-Z sporty coupe. The company plans to bring out a hybrid version of the Fit compact later this year.
The carmaker previously said it plans to introduce lithium- ion battery-based hybrid versions of the Civic and Acura luxury models. Lithium-ion batteries can store as much as twice the energy of nickel-metal hydride batteries that currently power Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius and Honda's hybrids.
The lithium-ion batteries will be made with Honda's joint- venture partner, Kyoto-based GS Yuasa Corp., starting in the second half of this year. The venture is 49 percent owned by Honda.
Honda has failed to match Toyota's success with hybrid cars. The Prius, the world's top-selling hybrid, outsold Honda's Insight 6-to-1 in the U.S. this year through May.