Finally, Development Begins: Producing the World's Finest EV

At the line-off ceremony to celebrate the first Honda EV Plus at Takanezawa Plant in April 1996. The vehicle gained national attention, with teams from five TV stations and ten newspapers covering the event.

<< 1. It all began with a debate concerning the feasibility of solar power.
<< 2. A Corporate Project Involving Scores of People
<< 3. "Why don't you just dig a hole, and bury it!"
<< 4. Finally, Development Begins: Producing the World's Finest EV
<< 5. Test Drives Totaling 130,000 Kilometers
<< 6. First Prototype Gets the Green Light
<< 7. Anticipating the Age of the EV

The new essential technologies (Note*2) required for electric vehicles were mastered one at a time through the process of research and development. In particular, the motor and control devices were of critical importance. Together they comprised the equivalent of an engine in a gasoline-powered vehicle. Honda decided to pursue the in-house manufacture of these parts. However, knowing that the ideal motor for an electric vehicle would be one that operated most efficiently, Honda's project team employed the DC brushless motor. This was at the time an unusual choice for a large motor.

"It was simply the most efficient, from the standpoint of test simulations," recalled Shigeru Suzuki. "Honda concentrated on this motor, and through intensive effort we increased its efficiency."

Despite lingering concerns that it was an unusual choice, the first motor Honda engineers put together performed at a level that exceeded their expectations. The motor then went through several years of trial and error testing until it was completed as an electric-vehicle motor. Competitors in the Japanese market who were then using several different types of motors also turned to this same type of motor. It was an unexpected move by Honda's competitors that proved the company had made the right choice.

It had so far been determined that most essential technologies had been mastered. Thus, in June 1992, D stage (production oriented) development began on electric vehicles. Top management ordered that this completely new type of vehicle be "the finest EV in the world"; that it "express a clean, quiet, smooth ride that is of another dimension"; and that it be "advanced."

Note:2. Factoring technologies are individual technologies and systems needed to establish a new technology or system. In the case of the EV, they are as follows:
a) New technologies and systems due to the changing nature of the power motor:
* Drive motor
* Battery (second battery)
* Motor controller
* Air-conditioning system
* Electric power-assisted power steering
* 12-volt battery recharger
* Brake system
* Regenerative control system
* Total-control system
b) Meeting legal requirements
* Impact safety performance (meeting needs caused by increased weight)
* Defroster performance
c) Additional technologies
* Recharging system
* Electric safety system
* Heating system
* Measures against electric field (electromagnetic waves)
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