Honda’s head of research and development Tomohiko Kawanabe says he is still sceptical about demand for electric cars because of a “lack of confidence” in the marketplace.

It is ten years since Honda stopped selling its EV Plus battery-powered vehicle model, Kawanabe told Bloomberg News: “It’s questionable whether consumers will accept limited driving range and having to spend time charging batteries.”

Honda’s view contrasts with that at Nissan which believes that EVs will make up 10% of the global car market by 2020. Kawanabe added that while Honda plans to sell electric cars in the US to help meet California emission rules, its priority is to improve the fuel efficiency.

From model years 2012 through 2014, the largest carmakers by volume in California must sell about 60,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric cars combined, according to the state Air Resources Board.

Honda began its research into battery-powered cars in 1988 and leased about 320 EV Plus models in the US and Japan between 1997 and 2000. The model used a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and had a range of 210kms on a single charge.

The company showed a concept version of an electric car named EV-N at last October’s Tokyo Motor Show but Kawanabe said it is focusing on expanding its lineup of hybrid models and improving its gasoline engines, adding that Honda sees hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles as the ultimate zero-emission vehicle.

Kawanabe also said that Honda is considering assembling Civic and Insight hybrid models in the US to avoid the negative impact of a stronger yen against the dollar, although he gave no indication on timing.

See also: RESEARCH: The changing position of ‘mild hybrids’