TOKYO ( Associated Press) – Honda is investing 5 trillion yen ($40 billion) in research over the next decade specifically to realize a major shift in ecological electric vehicles, the Japanese automaker said Tuesday.
The products and services would account for more than half of the 8 trillion yen ($64 billion) research and development budget at that time and would be tailored for each of the major markets, the US, China and Japan.
Efforts in North America will focus on collaboration with General Motors Co., under which Honda Motor Co. is jointly developing two mid-size to large EV models, which are slated for sale in 2024.
By 2027, as part of its alliance with GM, Honda plans to introduce an affordable electric vehicle that is competitive with gas-powered models in performance and pricing.
Top automakers are ramping up electric car offerings amid pressing concerns about climate change, as well as employing new types of fuel, such as biofuels and hydrogen-powered fuel cells.
According to the maker of the Accord sedan, Asimo Robot and Gold Wing motorcycles, Honda will launch 30 EV models globally by 2030, aiming to produce over 2 million vehicles annually.
They will span the full range of models, from small vans to muscular sports cars.
“We will continue to provide the kind of driving fun that our customers have come to expect from Honda,” said Chief Executive Toshihiro Mibe.
In China, where the move to electric vehicles is particularly rapid, Honda is introducing 10 new EV models by 2027.
In Japan, in a market dominated by gas-electric hybrids, Honda will debut with smaller commercial vehicles, such as delivery vans.
Officials said businesses are likely to be more open to such investments because of the Japanese government’s sustainability goals.
A commercial-use mini-EV model will go on sale in Japan in 2024 at the 1 million yen ($8,000) price range, while other EVs will follow, including a sport-utility model for regular consumers, he said.
By the end of 2020, Honda hopes to have a breakthrough on the next generation of batteries.
It will also develop related software as electric vehicles require recharging infrastructure and may include features such as robotics and avatars.
Like other automakers, Honda lost business during the coronavirus pandemic. But it is forecasting an operating profit of 800 billion yen ($6.4 billion) for the fiscal year ended March.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama