Honda’s Future Plans Hinge On Electric And Autonomous Vehicles

Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC) shared its plans for the future at a media event this week. Honda president and CEO Takahiro Hachigo discussed the plans while speaking about the broader vision for the company over the next 13 years. Honda is currently Japan’s third-largest automaker.

According to Hachigo’s statement, Honda intends to have vehicles capable of Level 3 freeway driving available by 2020 and has set a target of 2025 for introducing vehicles with Level 4 autonomous driving capability. The Society of Automotive Engineers defined Level 3 as highly automated driving where the driver still needs to be able to take over the vehicle upon request. Level 4 automation is where the car is capable of handling most driving situations itself. Level 5 is defined as complete automation in any condition.

Several automakers are well ahead of Honda in their development of self-driving cars. Last year, Toyota set up an internal venture with three of its top suppliers for the development of electric vehicles. This year, Nissan Motor Co. is set to unveil a new version of its Leaf EV, which first launched in 2010. Volkswagen AG is planning to launch four affordable EVs in the coming years.

Honda doesn’t appear to be worried about its competitors. Hachigo said, “We are not concerned about plans of Nissan or other carmakers.” He also said, “We are not trying to catch up with others but we are trying to achieve something unique to us.”

Honda is also discussing the possibility of joint R&D activities with Waymo, the Alphabet self-driving car unit that was spun out of Google X. Hachigo said, “Honda and Waymo have just started discussion of what we can do together in terms of research and development work, so nothing has been decided yet.”

Honda has also announced plans for various forms of electric vehicles to be two-thirds of the company’s sales by 2030. Hachigo said of the initiative, “We identified the introduction of electrification technologies and advanced safety technologies as our highest priorities and we are working proactively on them.” Honda established an EV division within its research and development unit in October.

The company plans to unveil its first global electric vehicle model this year. Honda will also introduce a plug-in hybrid and fully electric version to its Clarity line in the U.S. this year. The automaker will separately introduce a China-exclusive EV scheduled to go on sale next year.

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