Honda held an annual business briefing this week where new CEO Toshihiro Mibe expanded on the automaker’s new motivated push into electric vehicles. One of the prime points for our market is the arrival of a mid- to large-sized electric vehicle by 2025, a year earlier than Honda’s plans previously indicated. This vehicle will sit on an EV architecture Honda’s developing in-house, meaning this is a wholly separate entity from the coming Honda Prologue (pictured) and Acura ZDX crossovers that Honda’s developing with GM and that will sit on GM’s Ultium architecture. The EV coming in 2025, being mid- to large-sized, is likely going to be a three-row crossover substantially more meaty than the Passport-sized Prologue.
The model will run on another in-house development called E&E, the Electric & Electronic automotive software platform. Honda’s already nominated its first global head of user experience, plucked from a Silicon Valley company Honda bought in 2019. The software will not only act as foundation for the software-defined vehicle and serve as infotainment for driver and passenger, it’s already envisioned as an ongoing profit center for additional software and applications.
The business briefing comes a week after Auto Shanghai, where Honda debuted four new EVs for the Chinese market. Able to compare wares on adjacent stands, Honda COO Shinji Aoyama admitted to Automotive News that “We were overwhelmed by the Chinese” in terms of the progress the neighbor nation has made in the EV space. Mibe said, “They are ahead of us, even more than expected,” adding the understatement, “We recognized we are slightly lagging behind, and we are determined to turn the tables.”
Other aspects of the briefing filled in some secondary requirements for the push. Honda has partnered with microchip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing to provide the river of silicon necessary to make the dream possible. While the company is getting Ultium batteries from GM in the near-term for the Prologue and further Ultium-based models, over the rest of the decade Honda is collaborating with GS Yuasa on “high-capacity, high-output liquid lithium-ion batteries” and with SES AI Corporation to develop semi-solid-state batteries. A third battery track sees Honda working on its own solid-state batteries, aiming to have a demonstration production line in Tochigi, Japan, making these in 2024. There’s also a joint-venture in the works with LG Energy Solutions on a battery production plant that could break ground before the end of this year in the U.S.
On the car manufacturing side, Mibe said Honda’s developing EV-only assembly plants that “will be totally different from a conventional automobile production line.”
The rough road map at the moment targets 2 million annual sales of Honda EVs and fuel cell vehicles worldwide by 2030, which would represent 40% of the planned 5 million annual vehicle sales. The automaker will begin phasing out ICE models in various markets in 2027. By 2040, it expects to sell only EVs and FCEVs.