Two of the main novelties of Honda for 2020 will feature electrification: the Honda-e on the one hand, and the new Honda Jazz, as both will soon begin marketing in Europe.
But Honda CEO, Takahiro Hachigo predicts that cars with hybrid technologies will have more weight in the future than electric ones, and cars with high levels of autonomous driving may not even offer an approximate date.
With feet on the ground
In a recent interview given to Autonews Europe, Hachigo makes it clear that he has realistic expectations in the short term.
Honda wants two-thirds of its global sales to come from electrified vehicles by 2030, but they won’t be 100% electric cars. The Japanese CEO does not believe in the ‘boom’ of total electrification, at least for now, since he believes that there are still many obstacles related to infrastructure and hardware:
I don’t think there is a dramatic increase in the demand for battery-powered vehicles, and I think the situation is the same worldwide
I think hybrid vehicles will play a fundamental role. The goal is not electrification per se, but to improve fuel efficiency. And we believe that hybrid vehicles are the way to comply with different environmental regulations
At the end of 2018 he presented the first Honda SUV in Europe, the Honda CR-V Hybrid, combining two winning trends for 2021: SUVs and hybrid engines. In this scenario, the Toyota C-HR, the Toyota RAV-4 Hybrid, the Kia Niro PHEV or the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV have flourished.
But beyond electrical technologies to meet emission targets, Honda is beginning to explore autonomous driving, although not intensively. In October 2018, Honda and General Motors (through the Cruise division) signed a collaboration agreement to deploy autonomous vehicle technology on a large scale.
The 750 million dollars contributed by the Japanese firm are only the tip of the iceberg, as the manufacturer promised to inject $ 2,000 million over a period of 12 years.
“Cruise is in charge of the platform, which means they cover the chassis, as well as the power unit and steering-related components. And Honda is in charge of the interior and exterior […] design, and engineering”, explains Hiroto.
The truth is that Honda believes that level 3 automation is still far away, and there is no road map with a marked date. At the moment the plan is to connect Honda Sensing cascades to mass-market models such as the Civic and the Accord.
That is, democratizing the cross-traffic alert system, adaptive cruise control or lane maintenance assistance system before launching into autonomous technology, which requires more capital.
“We will have to be cautious when identifying which vehicle model will be optimal for a level 3 autonomous driving,” said Hiroto.