Honda lags far behind the competition when it comes to electromobility. The only electric car in the Japanese product portfolio is currently the small car Honda e. Otherwise, Honda customers have a handful of hybrid vehicles to choose from. That should change in the future; the carmaker wants to rely on solid-state batteries.
The new battery technology aims to make smaller electric cars more affordable, Toshihiro Mibe, president and CEO of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., recently told Bloomberg. From the point of view of the Japanese car manufacturer, this is apparently the key to the hoped-for success. "The electric vehicle business is highly dependent on battery costs. As we continue to develop our technology, we will try to control these costs," Mibe told the news outlet.
In contrast to the previously conventional lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte for current flow. This should lead to corresponding batteries becoming smaller and at the same time more cost-effective. In addition, a higher energy storage capacity is expected, which should be noticeable in a greater range. This should also significantly reduce the risk of fire from electric vehicles.
Toyota and Nissan have already started developing solid-state batteries and are well ahead of Honda. General Motors (GM) and Ford also want to start manufacturing solid-state batteries. Honda is therefore also cooperating with the electronics giant LG in battery production. In order to assert itself against the increasing competition, the Japanese car manufacturer has also teamed up with the electronics group Sony. At the beginning of January, they presented a prototype of an electric vehicle at the CES technology trade fair in Las Vegas, which is to be launched in North America in 2026 under the brand name Afeela.
After all, it's about saving costs and becoming more competitive. "The production of such batteries requires a significant investment, so we have to consider when we make these investments to produce the batteries," said the Honda CEO. That is very difficult. It could be several years before solid-state technology is ready for mass consumption, and figuring out when to ramp up production will be difficult, Mibe said.
That's why Honda is now primarily concerned with bringing fully electric cars to the market in higher and promising vehicle classes - namely SUVs. The Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX are both based on GM's electric car platform and are due out next year. Last week Mibe was in the USA to break ground for a new battery plant. Honda plans to manufacture lithium-ion batteries in Ohio in the future. Behind the construction project is a 4.4 billion investment.
Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid said Honda needs to release more electric vehicles to remain competitive in the US and Europe. Higher-priced models would have to start with in order to cover the production costs. From 2026, Honda will then target the production of smaller Stromer. While the manufacturer in China, the world's largest electric car market, wants to launch ten electric models by 2028 due to strong financial incentives for electric vehicles, such a statement is much more difficult for the USA, according to Mibe. The reason for this is the less well-developed charging network. "We have to think about these things if we want to reach our goal of selling 40 percent of electric cars by 2030. The market for electric vehicles is not stable." So far, Honda has been struggling with the switch to electromobility. But the Japanese have set themselves the goal of completely converting their product portfolio to electric vehicles by 2040.