In his inaugural press address, Honda Motor Co. President, Toshihiro Mibe, who only joined the company at the beginning of the month, laid out the plans. Honda’s remit is actually wider and more complex than many motor manufacturers as it is the biggest producer of ‘power units’ – such as motors for mowers – in the world. As such, its environmental plans encompass this.
Honda has laid out three initiatives which will help it achieve “zero environmental impact”, with the overall corporate goal being carbon neutrality across the entire business by 2050. The so-called three pillars are carbon neutrality, clean energy and resource circulation.
When it comes to cars, the headline is that in order to achieve its goal of its cars being carbon-free on a “tank-to-wheel” basis, it will increase the proportion of EV and fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) sales in all major markets to hit 40 per cent by 2030, and 80 per cent by 2035. By 2040, all of Honda’s global sales will be EVs or FCEVs.
Within his statement, Toshihiro Mibe didn’t set out specific plans for Europe, but in the USA, Honda will lean heavily on its alliance with GM. Together they are already developing two large EVs using GM’s Ultium batteries, with one being badged as a Honda and the other from Acura and both going on sale as soon as 2024.
From 2025 onwards Honda will launch a series of EVs on a new e:Architecture – a dedicated EV platform developed and built solely by Honda. Again, the first EVs on this platform will go on sale in the USA, but other regions will follow.
Honda has also confirmed that alongside its developments of the vehicles themselves, it is conducting independent research into solid state batteries. Verification of production of the tech will start this year via a demonstration production line and it is the company’s intention to have solid state batteries in its cars by the second half of the 2020s.
Honda is one of the preeminent brands when it comes to FCEVs. It is going to continue to strive towards a ‘hydrogen society’ by expanding its lineup of fuel cell-powered cars, but more importantly, using the technology in commercial vehicles as well as stationary and movable power sources (in a similar vein to those developed by AFC).
There is a sense from Honda that there will be a slight change of tack when it comes to FCEVs. Globally, EVs have all but won the fight for personal mobility, but off-grid power and for HGVs, it still has massive potential, so it makes sense for Honda to concentrate on these more promising areas.
Honda is applying its EV push to its huge motorbike business arm, too. Battery swapping is high on Honda’s agenda, here, and it has joined forces with other motorcycle manufacturers to create a consortium in Japan and Europe so that bikes can share battery packs. In terms of bikes themselves, Honda will introduce three new electric bikes in sub 50cc and sub 125cc motor classes by 2024.