TORRANCE, CA - Approximately 100 council members and employees from the City of Torrance (Calif.), American Honda Motor Co., and media representatives gathered Dec. 15 to watch as the City of Torrance became the first city to participate in Honda's electric vehicle demonstration program.

Honda launched the electric vehicle demonstration program with Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto and American Honda Motor Co., Inc. President and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura conducting the first public test drive of a Fit EV prototype and an Accord Sedan test vehicle outfitted with a new two-motor plug-in hybrid system.

The City of Torrance along with Stanford University and Google Inc., will each receive a Fit EV for testing starting in 2011. In addition, the city of Torrance will test a plug-in hybrid as a part of the program in 2012. Each of the three demonstration program participants will conduct general testing as well as evaluating specific and distinct issues related to the introduction of electric vehicles.

The Fit EV Concept made its world debut Nov. 17 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The production Fit EV will be introduced to customers in the U.S. and Japan in 2012.

According to Mayor Scotto, the new vehicles will help drive Torrance to become a more "green" city, noting that the City of New York had expressed how envious they were that Torrance would be getting these first prototypes. Scotto also said he hopes this move will help Torrance set an example for the rest of America.

"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 Iwamura. "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."

When the City receives its Fit EV and plug-in hybrid, it will be evaluating the technologies with a focus on charging infrastructure development, promotion of sustainable community initiatives, and to building public awareness about electric vehicles.

The Fit EV and plug-in hybrid will be used by several Torrance city departments, including the Community Development department and Public Works office, along with the Economic Development office.

Mayor Scotto honored the automaker by presenting Iwamura the "keys to the city" - a gesture Scotto said had only been demonstrated three times to his recollection.

The Fit EV will have a top speed of 90 mph and can be recharged in less than 12 hours when using a conventional 120v outlet, and less than six hours when using a 240v outlet, according to Honda.

Achieving an estimated 100-mile driving range per charge, driving range can be maximized by use of an innovative 3-mode electric drive system, adapted from the 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid. The system allows the driver to select between Econ, Normal, and Sport to maximize efficiency or improve acceleration.

Honda also unveiled a plug-in hybrid platform at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which showcased Honda's next-generation two-motor hybrid system, designed for mid-size to larger vehicles and will be introduced in a future Honda model in 2012. The Honda two-motor system continuously moves through three different modes to maximize driving efficiency: all-electric, gasoline-electric and a unique, engine direct-drive mode. The plug-in hybrid also uses regenerative braking to charge the battery.

In all-electric mode, the vehicle uses a 6kWh lithium-ion battery and a powerful 120 kW electric motor. The all-electric mode achieves a range of approximately 10-15 miles in city driving and a top speed of 62 mph. The battery takes 3-4 hours to fully recharge using a 120v outlet and 1-1.5 hours using a 240v outlet.

By Grace Suizo


Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine