TOKYO - The head of Honda Motor Co said he would consider launching electric cars in the United States, Europe and Japan, a sign Japan's No. 2 automaker is changing its strategy for the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Honda has been a strong proponent of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as the most promising zero-emission alternative to today's combustion engine cars, dismissing plug-in electric cars as a short-range option that uses too many expensive batteries.

But Honda has recently said that slow progress in setting up hydrogen fuelling stations could limit the sale of its fuel-cell vehicles, and that it may need pure electric cars to meet tough regulations in California.

Chief Executive Takanobu Ito said that in addition to the U.S. market, the automaker would consider electric cars for other markets including Europe and Japan.

Ito told an industry seminar that he still believed that hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles would in the end be the key car technology but that electric cars would be a core offering for it in the future.

(Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher)