Honda isn’t a small company. We’re accustomed to thinking of Honda in the automotive realm, but lest we forget Honda’s substantial presence in the two-wheeled world, not to mention other areas such as engines and even jets. So when a company of that stature sets lofty goals, it’s worthy of attention.
The latest news comes from the inaugural press conference of Honda’s new global CEO, Toshihiro Mibe, held on April 23. The crux of the presentation outlined a future where, if things go according to plan, Honda vehicles will be 100 percent electric by 2040. We’ve heard other automakers establish similar goals, but this is noteworthy as it isn’t region-specific. Timeframes to get there differ slightly from North America to China and Japan, but all plans lead to Honda automobiles being electric-only in 19 years.
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How will that happen? In the US, Honda obviously has its strategic partnership with General Motors and plans to fully leverage that relationship for the development of Ultium batteries. In Japan, more attention will fall on mobility and small city vehicles like the Honda e, not to mention the development of swappable battery systems for motorcycles and scooters. In all areas, additional research and development on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will play a role as well.
Speaking of hydrogen, it’s a significant component of Honda’s other target and it could be much harder to reach. The manufacturer wants to be carbon-neutral by 2050, and not just in terms of its products. It’s a company-wide initiative to wipe carbon emissions at all levels, from manufacturing to corporate functionality. We opened this article with a reminder that Honda’s portfolio expands far beyond automobiles, so this is indeed a very ambitious goal.
Volvo recently launched a similar initiative, but whereas the Swedish company offered no real plan to get there, Honda at least points a finger towards hydrogen as a possible solution. Honda is also researching a wide variety of carbon-neutral fuels and better recycling practices, and the company pledges to invest a staggering $46.3 billion over the next six years to try and solve these problems. So yeah, Honda seems very serious about backing up its words with action.
Can these goals be realized? Consider where the world was 29 years ago in terms of technology. In 1991 a home computer still used a massive monitor and had a fraction of the processing power compared to the 1.5-pound phone you’re probably reading this article on. Hybrid vehicles didn’t exist, never mind electric ones. Driver-assist systems still referred to basic features like hydraulic power steering and brakes, and 400 horsepower was considered exceptional.
Who knows what the next 29 years could bring.