Honda CEO announces a plug-in hybrid system for mid size and larger vehicles. He also apologised for a lack of communication by company staff before strikes by Chinese workers at their parts plants in China.

On Tuesday, Honda Motor Company Chief Executive Takanobu Ito outlined plans for a plug-in hybrid and battery electric model in 2012.

[Takanobu Ito, Honda CEO]:
"A new plug-in hybrid system for mid-size to larger vehicles is currently under development. Vehicles equipped with this new system are scheduled to go on sale in 2012 in Japan and the U.S."

Honda, Japan's No.2 automaker, was one of the world's only carmakers to offer gasoline-electric cars during the past decade but never had a strong hybrid model or plans to mass-produce pure electric cars.

The company had so far only announced plans to sell a battery-run electric car in the United States simply to meet legal requirements in California, arguing their batteries were too expensive to be practical.

Honda has been a strong supporter of hydrogen fuel-cell cars as the best zero-emission alternative to today's combustion engine cars... but their infrastructure hurdles are even bigger than for plug-in vehicles.