The brand will be the first Japanese marque to fully embrace the electric wave.
Honda has just revealed the latest generation of its bread-and-butter Civic. Without breaking the mold in any way, the new Civic and vehicles like the CR-V SUV remain pleasingly reassuring modes of transportation for thousands of commuters. But don't think for a second that Honda isn't forging ahead in new areas that lie beyond its comfort zone.
Earlier this year, the company announced the first Level 3 autonomous car, and now the Japanese marque has more big news: it has become the first Japanese automaker to publicly commit to a fully electric future. The goal has been set for 2040. Earlier this year, Honda announced that all its US models would be electric by 2040 but the latest announcement seems to expand this approach to all Honda cars globally.
According to The Detroit News, EV penetration in Japan sits at just 1%, far below China's 6%. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga aims to attain carbon neutrality by 2050 and Honda's new 2040 goal would go some way towards achieving that.
"It's a very bold target," said Yachiyo Tanaka, an analyst at automotive research company Fourin, when commenting on Honda's goal. "Honda has pledged to pull ahead of other automakers by introducing the latest technologies."
Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe admitted that meeting the 2040 goal would "be an uphill struggle" but also said, "we can't postpone making an effort and then expect to reach the target at the last minute."
Honda's electrification plan includes motorcycles, with three new electric two-wheelers planned by 2024, and we wouldn't be surprised to see the next-gen Civic in six years take on an EV powertrain. Among other Japanese auto giants, Toyota recently indicated that it believes there is a range of power sources to consider for its vehicles, not just pure battery-electrics. For Toyota, it's more about delivering what the customer wants.
While 2040 may seem far away, Honda has a lot of work to do to meet this goal. The company simply lacks electric models right now. There is the cute Honda-e but that's not coming to the US, although two large electric SUVs - one being a Honda and one being an Acura - using GM's Ultium batteries are scheduled to arrive in the US as 2024 models. Among current electrified Hondas, production of the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and Clarity Fuel Cell is expected to come to an end next month.