Honda Will Go Electric- and Fuel Cell-Only by 2040

Following similar plans announced by other automakers this winter and spring, Honda laid out its electrification strategy for the next two decades, aiming for 2040 as the target year by which all of its offerings will be electric or otherwise zer0-emission. Honda’s transition to electric vehicles will occur in stages and won’t neglect hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles—a technology that’s sparking more debate about its viability as EV adoption begins to pick up momentum in several crucial regions.

How will Honda’s plans be differ from other automakers that have recently announced similar timetables?

For starters, the automaker is planning to take different steps in different markets, aiming to have 40% of its offerings in North America battery electric or fuel cell by 2030, climbing to 80% five years later. By 2040, Honda wants 100% of its North American offerings to be electric, battery or fuel cell. When it comes to the immediate future, the automaker says that it is working with GM to develop two large-sized EV models based on GM’s Ultium powertrain and batteries, both of which are expected to arrive here as 2024 model year vehicles, one under the Acura brand and one under the Honda brand.

Honda is also working on its own EV platform for the second part of the decade, dubbed e:Architecture, which will underpin a range of new EV models that will be offered first in North America, and then in the rest of the world. Honda also aims to develop its own solid-state battery technology, rather than relying on suppliers and battery producers.

“In order to secure the high competitiveness of our EVs of the future, Honda is conducting independent research on all-solid-state batteries as the next generation batteries which will realize high capacity and low cost,” the automaker notes. “We will undertake the verification of production technology using a demonstration line, starting this fiscal year. We will begin accelerating this research with an aim to make all-solid-state batteries available for our new models to be introduced in the second half of the 2020s.”

Honda’s plans for China follow an identical timetable, but in the case of this EV-filled market Honda says that it aims to offer 10 Honda-branded electric vehicles within five years—a more ambitious plan than one envisioned for North America—with an electric SUV due in 2022. When it comes to its home market of Japan, Honda plans to offer electrified models only by 2030, and achieve a 100% EV and FCV mix by 2040. In addition, Honda says that it plans to field its first electric kei car by 2024.

“For the procurement of batteries, we will strive to realize a ‘local production and local procurement’ approach in Japan, which also will contribute to the growth of domestic industries in Japan,” the automaker adds.

Focused on more than just cars and trucks, Honda also plans to electrify its motorcycle models in the future, and will also develop swappable battery tech for its two-wheeled offerings. The company plans to introduce three new models for personal use, as opposed to business use, by 2024. Honda says that it will field these EVs in classes below 50cc and below 125cc as well.

As mentioned, Honda continues to carve out space for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Honda is one of just a handful of automakers alongside Toyota, Hyundai, and BMW, to devote development efforts to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, recently fielding the Honda Clarity sedan.

“Hydrogen is expected to be popularized as a renewable energy source,” the company says. “Honda has a long history of researching, developing, and commercializing FC technologies.”

“While continuing our collaboration with GM, Honda will strive to reduce costs and realize a ‘hydrogen society’ by expanding our lineup of FCVs and also by using FC systems for a wide range of applications, including commercial trucks as well as both stationary and movable power sources,” Honda adds.

It remains to be seen just how much effort will go into hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in comparison with battery-electric vehicles and hybrids, but it’s worth noting that Honda’s Clarity is now in its second generation, having been launched in 2008, while Honda has neglected to bring the e hatch stateside. So the past decade has not dissuaded the automaker from pursuing hydrogen tech and selling an FCV while not offering an EV in America — a curious bet to industry watchers and competitors — even as hydrogen infrastructure in the U.S. remains confined to southern California.

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Will Honda need a small EV stateside at some point, or should it focus on SUVs? Let us know in the comments below.

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