Honda’s top executive has predicted that despite automakers’ push to go electric, combustion engines could still be with us beyond 2040.
The Japanese auto giant, which has been slow to transition to electric vehicles and is playing catch-up with its EV competitors, will probably still be in the traditional engine business for another two decades, said Toshihiro Mibe.
He explained that while Honda is running feasibility studies on everything from chargers and advanced batteries to aerial vehicles and rockets, work on new low-carbon e-fuels could help keep combustion engines around – in performance cars, big trucks and airplanes – for another 10 or 20 years.
Next month sees the launch of a standalone business unit to oversee the development of Honda’s EV and battery business, which eventually could include an investment in charging stations, similar to Tesla Inc’s Supercharger network, Mibe said in Marysville, Ohio, at the hub of the company’s US operations.
“The charging infrastructure is not at a place that it needs to be for our customers,” he said.
But Mibe added: “As we move toward carbon neutrality, we are focused on electrification and fuel cells – those are the two core components of future mobility.”
Honda has been slow to follow larger rivals, from Volkswagen AG to General Motors Co, in committing billions of dollars to developing and building EVs and batteries.
Honda-LG Joint Battery Venture
Now it plans to invest at least $40 billion through 2030, with the goal of pushing hybrid and fully electric vehicles to 40% of its sales by decade’s end.
Those investments include a $3.5 billion joint venture to build batteries with LG Energy Solution in nearby Jeffersonville, Ohio, starting in 2025, for use in Honda’s future EV factories in North America.
Before then, Honda in 2024 will get two new electric SUVs, 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 first of which will arrive in the US in 2026, as well as advanced batteries of its own design for some of those future models.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara