New CEO Says Honda Will Make Full Transition to EVs and FCVs by 2040

Japan’s second largest auto-maker Honda Motor Co. revealed on Friday that it plans to fully transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) by 2040. The announcement was made by Toshihiro Mibe, who took on the role of the company’s chief executive and representative director in April this year. The new commitment to use cleaner fuels is in line with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement a day prior about accelerating efforts to cut emissions by 46% (upgraded from the earlier target of 26%), as compared to 2013 levels, by 2030, and to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050 in Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest carbon-emitter.

“I believe it is the responsibility of an automaker to achieve our carbon-free goal on a ‘tank-to-wheel’ basis,” Mibe said at his first news conference upon taking the new position. While he found the government’s target “difficult”, he also thought it “feasible” and assured that the company will give support towards realising the goal. As readers are aware, the automobile technology has been moving towards electric vehicles and autonomous driving in recent time, including Honda which launched its first mass-produced all-battery vehicle last year in August. In March 2021, the company also joined forces with Yamaha Motor Co., KTM AG, and Piaggio & C SpA, to set up a Swappable Batteries Consortium for  Electric Motorcycles and light electric vehicles (EVs). Mibe is expected to lead this shift towards sustainable options which is already underway within the company.

According to the announcement, the company aims to make its EVs and FCVs hold a 40% stake in sales by 2030 and an 80% stake by 2035 in all major markets, including North America and China. In the North America particularly, Honda and General Motors plan to launch 2 jointly-developed large-sized EV models using GM’s Ultium batteries in 2024, and a series of new EV models comprising a new EV platform to be called e:Architecture. Additionally, the company will invest around 5 trillion yen ($46.3 billion) over the next six years, in research and development programmes irrespective of the changes in sales revenue. The automaker, which plans to incorporate advanced driver-assistance systems in all of its models in major markets by 2030, also hopes to bring in hybrid vehicles in its 2040 target, since it considers changing conventional cars to hybrid a “realistic solution” for the domestic market.

While Honda’s new announcement to go all-electric aligns with the vision of other automakers like GM, BMW’s Mini, etc., it also includes plans to produce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which are considered electric vehicles since the fuel cells power electric motors. The company, like fellow Japanese automaker Toyota, has been arguing for long that fuel cell hydrogen is the next alternative to the internal combustion engine. Unfortunately, the hydrogen supply chain depends heavily on the fossil fuel industry, due to which hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may not be able to compete with battery-electric passenger vehicles in the future. Given that Honda’s battery-electric vehicles will likely make an appearance by the latter half of this decade, it’s left to be seen whether its FCVs will perform well.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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