The key reason is the lack of a charging infrastructure accessible to everyone.
Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe said in a recent interview with Reuters that internal combustion engine technology is unlikely to disappear from the scene until at least 2040, if not longer, due to charging infrastructure issues. "The charging infrastructure is not at a place that it needs to be for our customers," he bluntly said. This is not a new argument and it's important that top-level automaker executives acknowledge this reality, especially as global governments are pushing EV incentives, such as America's Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Mibe, a lifelong gearhead, also made clear he differentiates between his personal preferences and the industry at large. "I've been in the engine development business for more than 30 years, so personally it's a little threatening. But I have to separate my own feelings from what is best for the business."
The Japanese automaker has already made significant strides toward electrification. In January, Honda and LG Energy announced a joint new battery plant to be built near Columbus, Ohio slated to begin production in to 2025. It previously committed a $700 million investment into three of its five facilities in Ohio, including the Marysville plant, home of the Accord and Civic.
Last fall, Honda and Sony announced a major partnership to develop EVs with the goal of entering the market in 2026. These vehicles will utilize in-house-developed platforms. The also upcoming Prologue and Acura ZDX crossovers, however, will ride on General Motor's Ultium architecture.
Both are due next year and will be manufactured at GM's Spring Hills factory in Tennessee. Mibe added that Honda is currently conducting feasibility studies on key infrastructure hardware like chargers, batteries, aerial vehicles, and even rockets. Low-carbon e-fuels, aka synthetic fuels, are also on the list. Like Porsche, Honda sees synthetic fuels as a way to keep high-performance sports cars around for another two decades or so.
But he emphasized that "as we move toward carbon neutrality, we are focused on electrification and fuel cells - those are the two core components of future mobility."
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