Honda plans to sell 70,000 of its Prologue battery-electric vehicles each year after launching in 2024 – but today warned it could fail if federal lawmakers don’t take a “fair and just” approach to the new program incentive for electric vehicles currently being debated in Congress.
The Honda Prologue will be one of two BEVs the automaker is planning to launch in the mid-decade, both developed and manufactured in a joint venture with General Motors. This is part of its goal of having BEVs and other zero-emission vehicles account for 40% of its sales by 2030. Honda plans to introduce more BEVs of its own design thereafter.
“The launch of our first BEV volume in 2024 is the start of an exciting new direction for Honda,” said Dave Gardner, executive vice president of national operations at American Honda Motor Co. Inc. in a statement. “We are working with our dealers to plan the transition from selling primarily gasoline vehicles to selling 100% electric vehicles by 2040.”
Honda wants more money from Congress
President Joe Biden recently set a goal which would have BEVs, PHEVs and fuel cell vehicles, or FCVs, account for 50% of sales in the United States by 2030. To make it happen, the president is asking Congress to help fund a nationwide network of 500,000 chargers. Congress, meanwhile, is developing new incentives for the sale of electric vehicles. But it generated significant controversy because a plan approved by the House Ways & Means Committee would not only extend the current tax credits by $ 7,500, but add $ 5,000 for electric vehicles and batteries built in the United States to help from unionized workers.
Honda last week condemned these provisions, sending a letter to congressional leaders claiming the plan “discriminates against electric vehicles made by hard-working American auto workers simply on the basis of their union membership.”
In the statement released today, he went on to say that meeting its 40% zero-emission target for the United States is “contingent on fair and equitable access to state and federal incentives for electric vehicles intended to encourage American consumers to buy electric vehicles ”.
Coming from behind
Honda was a pioneer in automotive electrification. Its original Insight, a high-mileage two-seater, was the first mainstream hybrid to go on sale in the United States, beating the Toyota Prius in showrooms for months.
It briefly introduced a limited-volume battery-electric model, the EV Plus, in the late 1990s. And this followed, almost two decades later, with a battery-powered version of the Clarity line. This the low-end model was discontinued in 2020.
The automaker has come under increasing pressure to release a long-range BEV with key competitors like Toyota, Ford and even Subaru and Mazda entering the growing electric vehicle market.
In April, Toshihiro Mibe, who became global president and CEO earlier this year, set a goal to have all Honda vehicles powered by some form of battery and hydrogen drive system from by 2030. They are expected to generate 40% of its sales in North America by the end of the decade, 80% by 2035 and 100% by the end of the next decade.
Honda turns to its partner
To speed up the process, Honda turned to General Motors, the two traditional rivals. already several joint ventures in the work, including one focused on fuel cell technology, another on autonomous vehicles.
“By leveraging strategic partners to reach scale and mitigate initial investment needs” will allow Honda to bring a competitive battery car to market sooner than it could on its own, said recognized Gardner at a press conference in June. “Our zero emission goal has started,” he said.
While the target of 70,000 sales may seem modest compared to the volumes generated by some new BEVs, particularly those from Tesla, this figure roughly matches the annual demand for the Honda Pilot SUV.
A regional approach to sales
When it launched the original EV Plus, Honda mainly focused on the California market, the most important for BEVs. While automakers like Tesla, General Motors, Ford and Nissan are now rolling out their battery-electric cars nationwide, Honda plans to continue to focus on certain markets with Prologue.
“Honda’s initial approach to selling the Prologue will be regional, focusing on California and the ZEV states, including the BEV-friendly Sunbelt states of Texas and Florida,” he said in a statement. today. “Honda anticipates that these regions will account for the bulk of sales at the start of the launch due to higher customer acceptance and regulatory requirements.
“As the infrastructure for electric vehicles grows and customer interest grows nationwide, the company will quickly expand its sales and marketing efforts to other parts of the country. “
The automaker hasn’t provided any specific details on the Prologue’s drivetrain beyond the fact that it will share the Ultium battery technology that GM will launch later this year, starting with models like the GMC Hummer pickup and the Cadillac Lyriq SUV. This would suggest that Honda’s electric SUV will provide at least 250 miles of range between charges.
Honda has been completely silent on the second vehicle to come from its GM alliance. But he noted that subsequent battery cars will rely on his own new e-Architecture. It should follow the same skateboard-style approach used for Ultium, with its batteries and main drive components mounted under the cargo floor.