Even as it prepares to launch its first long-range EV for the U.S. market, Honda plans to introduce an all-new “series” of global battery-electric vehicles during next month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The even will mark the launch of the first models developed internally by Honda, rather than as part of a partnership with General Motors.
While Honda has been an active proponent of “electrification,” it has focused largely on hybrids and plug-in hybrids, until now offering only short-range EVs, notably a version of its old Clarity family. It will get into the long-range segment next year with the sales launch of the Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX.
Both of those models were developed as part of a joint venture with GM, however. They’re based on the U.S. automaker’s Ultium EV technology. Going forward, Honda will rely on its own resources to design, engineer and manufacturer new battery-electric models.
“Honda will showcase the global EV series models and several key technologies that illustrate the significant transformation Honda is currently undergoing,” the automaker said in an accompanying statement.
The big tease
Honda isn’t saying much about what it actually plans to bring to CES 2024 next month, however. But it did offer a teaser image that offers some insight.
A bit of scrutiny reveals what is likely the gently sloping, slab-sided back fascia of the EV it will reveal. There are no taillights immediately visible, though there may be a narrow strip of lights below what appears to be a built-in spoiler. The image raises the question of whether one of the new technologies Honda plans to reveal will include a new lighting system hidden in, or perhaps behind, that fascia.
The steeply raked back end features plenty of glass. And several pyramidal shapes appear to be designed into either the wheels or wheel coverings. They’re vaguely reminiscent of the edgy triangles Nissan used for the Hyper Punk concept it revealed at the recent Japan Mobility Show.
Where Honda’s Been …
Honda has followed a similar path taken by its archrival Toyota, until recently downplaying EVs in favor of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. But, again like Toyota, it has begun shifting directions.
That started with one of several joint ventures teaming Honda with GM. It will launch both the Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX next year.
Credit two factors; global emissions regulations that have put a premium on 100% emissions-free vehicles, and a transition at Honda’s global helm. Since becoming CEO in April 2021, Toshihiro Mibe has put a premium on getting competitive in the EV space — though he has stressed on several occasions his belief that the right approach blends a variety of different electrified drivetrain options, from hybrids to EVs to fuel-cell vehicles.
And where it’s going
One of the significant shifts under Mibe was announced late last month when Honda and GM decided to scrub a second EV program, this one aimed at the development of new, low-cost models — likely targeting a range under $30,000 in a bid to win over entry-level buyers currently priced out of the electric vehicle market.
“After studying this for a year, we decided that this would be difficult as a business, so at the moment, we are ending development of an affordable EV,” Mibe said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The automaker is still expected to try to drive down EV costs, but it will now go it alone.
Aggressive sales goals
While Honda may not be moving as quickly as leaders like GM and Volkswagen into the EV space, it still has some aggressive plans.
In its CES announcement, the automaker noted, “By 2050, Honda will introduce 30 new EVs globally by 2030 with a global sales volume of 2 million units. In North America, Honda has laid out an aggressive timeline of EV introductions leading to 2030 and ultimately to 100% zero-emission automobile sales by 2040, which includes battery electric and fuel cell electric powered models.”
We’ll find out more about the new EV series and related technologies during a CES 2024 news conference at 10:30 a.m. PST on Jan. 9, 2024. Headlight.News will be there.