Their lightweight construction appeals to Honda's CEO.
The Type R nameplate is hugely important to Honda and has become a cornerstone of the brand's performance offerings. The Civic Type R, for example, is a symbol of engineering excellence, and the hot hatch all its rivals aspire to be. But what will come of it as the industry pivots to electromobility?
Speaking to The Drive, Honda's Managing Officer Shinji Aoyama said, "the solid-state battery will make the weight lighter." As for when this will happen, Aoyama said it's "difficult to respond." The CEO of the Japanese company, Toshihiro Mibe, added that the battery tech will suit electric Type R models due to its unique traits.
"For example, a characteristic of solid-state batteries is that they don't easily overheat, meaning that the cooling systems for these [Type R] electric vehicles can be simplified in terms of size and weight," he remarked.
Honda Type R products have always been about lightweight construction, sharp handling, and joyful dynamics. The current crop of EV batteries would dull the driving experience, and therefore tarnish the strong reputation. The lighter solid-state batteries, however, are a far better option.
"Compared to current EV batteries, this would help reduce the weight and would be effective for Type R and motorcycle applications as well. In the future, solid-state batteries will be the center for electric cars and motorcycles that have soul," added Mibe.
Italian supercar maker Ferrari also believes this is the correct approach and has invested heavily in solid-state battery research for future electric vehicles.
This isn't a confirmation that Honda will solely rely on solid-state batteries to build future Type R vehicles, but rather a hint at what direction the company hopes to take in the future.
Mibe told The Drive that Honda is looking at a variety of technologies. "We are looking into what direction would help us develop electric cars with soul ... it will take some time until this direction is clear, and then we will need some time to develop these technologies."
The CEO explained that Honda may even "combine elements from various technologies" to build "exciting electric vehicles with soul." The chief executive remarked that wonderful engines and available manual transmissions are big selling points for the brand, but the company hopes to introduce technology that will make electric Honda vehicles fun to drive.
"We actually do have a test vehicle already in this segment, that we believe is fun to drive and can compare to a six-speed manual transmission vehicle." Mibe didn't comment on what the prototype is, but this is very promising news.
American Honda's Dave Gardner has previously said he's in favor of the technology, albeit for different reasons. He believes solid-state battery technology holds the key to affordable electric vehicles. This could bring EV ownership within reach of millions more, as high purchase costs remain one of the biggest hindrances to buying an electric car.
Honda has been slow to introduce electric vehicles in America. In Europe, the delightful little Honda e exists, but US customers only have hybrid models to choose from. That's all set to change with the arrival of the Prologue, the company's first EV birthed from the strategic partnership with General Motors.
In the meantime, the automaker has invested approximately $310 million into an experimental program that will manufacture solid-state batteries from 2024. The technology won't be implemented in any vehicles but will allow Honda to evaluate production capabilities.