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REVVING UP AUTO MARKET : HONDA TO OFFER ELECTRIC CAR TO COMPETE WITH GM'S EV1.

Byline: Gregory J. Wilcox Daily News Staff Writer

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. will roll out its entry in California's electric car market today at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. It's a stout-looking vehicle with rounded lines similar to the old Honda Civic.

Called the Honda EV Plus, the car will be available for lease by individuals and corporate fleets starting this spring.

Terms are for three years with monthly payments of $499, which includes comprehensive and collision insurance, roadside assistance and maintenance. That package alone is worth about $200 a month, said Robert J. Bienenfeld, Honda's market development manager.

``If you need brake pads, we'll replace them,'' Bienenfeld said. ``If you need windshield wipers, we'll replace them. We don't want the consumer to have any of the technical responsibility.''

The suggested sticker price is $53,999, and about $20,000 of that amount is for the advanced nickel-metal hydride battery system.

Honda is the second major automaker to bring an electric car built from the ground up to market and the first to use the hydride batteries, which provide a bit more range than lead acid batteries.

General Motors Corp. began leasing its EV1 late last year.

And while GM used a futuristic teardrop-shaped car to demonstrate that electric vehicles can pack a punch, Honda opted for a practical approach.

The GM EV1 can hold only two passengers and not much else. The Honda EV Plus has room for lots of stuff. In addition to comfortably accommodating four adults, the back seat folds down to increase cargo space.

Honda is only making 300 of the cars available in California, which helps explain the high price tag.

Only four dealerships in the state - including Miller Honda in Van Nuys - will have them.

The electric cars are part of an industry response to California Air Resources Board requirements that 10 percent of the vehicles offered for sale by 2003 be certified as emitting zero tailpipe emissions. Cars powered by electricity meet that standard.

The rule applies to seven auto companies, but so far only Honda and GM have built vehicles from the ground up. Some others plan to offer electric conversions of gasoline-powered models.

HONDA EV PLUS

Here are some specs on the latest entry into the electric vehicle market:

FEATURES: Anti-lock braking system, dual air bags, air conditioning, power windows, door locks and mirrors; AM-FM-CD player audio system.

BATTERIES: Nickel-metal hydride.

RECHARGE TIME: 8 hours.

PERFORMANCE: 0 TO 60 mph in 18.7 seconds, top speed of 80 plus mph.

RANGE: Approximately 100 miles.

SOURCE: American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

CAPTION(S):

Photo, Box

Box: HONDA EV PLUS (See text)

Photo: (Color) American Honda Motor Co. Inc's electric vehicle, Honda EV Plus, will be presented today at the Greater Los Angeles Convention Center. the car will be available for leasing this spring.

David R. Crane/Daily News
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 3, 1997
Words:478
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