MARYSVILLE, Ohio – Honda Motor Co. is moving rapidly to meet up with electric-vehicle competitors in global markets, but the corporate’s top executive said combustion engines could last through 2040 and beyond.
Regarding the Japanese automaker’s accelerating transition to EVs, Chief Executive Toshihiro Mibe said, “I’ve been within the engine development business for greater than 30 years, so personally it’s somewhat threatening. But I even have to separate my very own feelings from what’s best for the business.”
That features the establishment next month of a standalone business unit to oversee development of Honda’s EV and battery business, which eventually could include an investment in charging stations, much like Tesla Inc.’s Supercharger network, Mibe said in Marysville, Ohio, on the hub of the corporate’s U.S. operations.
“The charging infrastructure is just not at a spot that it must be for our customers,” he said.
Mibe added that Honda is running feasibility studies on all the pieces from chargers and advanced batteries to aerial vehicles and rockets, in addition to latest low-carbon e-fuels that would help keep combustion engines around – in performance cars, big trucks and airplanes – for one more decade or two.
But Mibe added, “as we move toward carbon neutrality, we’re focused on electrification and fuel cells – those are the 2 core components of future mobility.”
Honda has been slow to follow larger rivals, from Volkswagen to General Motors Co., in committing billions of dollars to developing and constructing EVs and batteries. Now it plans to speculate at the least $40 billion through 2030, with the goal of pushing hybrid and fully electric vehicles to 40 percent of its sales by decade’s end.
Those investments include a $3.5 billion three way partnership to construct batteries with LG Energy Solution in nearby Jeffersonville, Ohio, starting in 2025, to be used in Honda’s future EV factories in North America.
Before then, Honda in 2024 will get two latest electric crossovers, the Honda Prologue and the Acura ZDX, from GM’s Spring Hills factory in Tennessee.
Mibe confirmed that Honda is developing its own EV architectures, the primary of which is able to arrive within the U.S. in 2026, in addition to advanced batteries of its own design for a few of those future models.