Starting From Zero – Timing is Everything

As I stood on the stage at CES 2024 following the announcement of our Honda 0 (zero) Series and our electric vehicle direction, I couldn't help but observe the energy around us. After all, our Honda global leadership team had just shown two incredible concept models that brought our 0 Series to life: the Honda Saloon and Space-Hub. We plan to produce the Saloon, a dramatic looking sedan, at our EV Hub in Ohio.

We are witnessing a remarkable industry transformation from internal combustion engines (ICE) to battery electric vehicles (EV). Unsurprisingly, a frantic, breakneck race commenced in pursuit of this transition and, last year, a record 1.2 million EVs were sold in America, representing 7.6% of the U.S. vehicle market. But recently, the news about electric vehicles has focused on slowing consumer demand and concerns about affordability. As with any fundamental technology shift, the transition to new tech is never a straight line. There are bound to be speed bumps along the way. However, these speed bumps haven't affected the overall trajectory of our plans.

We have made clear: our journey to the electrified future is well underway, with our first all-electric SUVs on sale now. Yet, we never believed that a once-in-a-hundred-year transformation would happen at the flip of a switch. Rather, Honda is transitioning to EVs based on a thoughtful, customer-focused strategy.

That's the thinking behind our 0 Series concept. Of course, it is a reflection of our goal to achieve zero emissions in all of our products and corporate activities. More than that, it signifies that Honda plans to create new value for EVs, by starting from scratch – or zero. 

Maximizing People
For Honda, this means going back to our fundamental principle for Honda automobile design – maximizing space for people and minimizing space for mechanical components. This is more relevant than ever as we head into the electrified future in search of the true Holy Grail of future EVs – a less expensive and lightweight battery.

So, our approach to “maximizing people” in the EV era will mean developing thin and light batteries, that enable us to create more spacious, lightweight and affordable vehicles.

Hybrid-Electric Vehicles Help in Many Ways
Our transition to the electrified future will offer our customers choices based on their needs. This includes our hybrid-electric strategy that made the Honda CR-V hybrid America's best-selling hybrid-electric in 2023 and our Accord hybrid the best-selling hybrid-electric passenger car. Debuting this summer is a new Civic hybrid that will provide our customers with another affordable path to an electrified vehicle. 

Hybrids aren't a hedge or an effort to buy time for EVs. It's about meeting customer needs with a product that will help introduce them to electrification while making a real contribution toward reducing carbon emissions.

Our hybrid vehicles aren't just getting consumers ready for electrification, but our production associates as well.  For the past four years, we have been making the two-motor hybrid-electric system and the hybrid-electric battery that powers them at our Ohio facilities. Next year, our associates at the Marysville Auto Plant will begin assembling the battery module for the EVs we will produce there. So, hybrids have already helped advance our ability to make EVs here in America.

EPA Rulemaking Acknowledges Multiple Pathways
The recent vehicle emissions rulemaking from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is another acknowledgement of the important role that hybrid-electric vehicles can play in reaching our collective environmental goals. While the EPA rule remains extremely challenging, it recognizes that a more paced transition to 100% electrification will accommodate necessary advancements in the domestic supply chain, consumer demand, battery technology and charging infrastructure.

On that front, we are working to help address America's need for a high-powered public charging network that will give consumers confidence. Honda helped conceive a new industry joint venture, called IONNA, that will create one of North America's most accessible and reliable high-powered charging networks. Starting this year, IONNA will ultimately deploy at least 30,000 chargers.

Moving Ahead with EVs
At the same time, we're moving forward with introducing all-electric vehicles as many Honda and Acura customers are ready for an EV. Both the all-electric Honda Prologue and the Acura ZDX qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit. Co-development of these EVs with GM was the right approach and they are important products in our transition to electrification. Not only were we able to utilize a state-of-the-art platform, but we are able to bring our first full-electric SUVs to market more quickly. We have tremendous confidence in these two models and expect both to make a significant impact in the market.

The EV market has tremendous potential, and we are excited about our new Honda 0 Series, including our plans to build those EVs right here in America. By staying finely attuned to our customers' needs and strategically delivering the right mix of ICE, hybrid, and EV options precisely timed to market demand, we're confident in our ability to navigate this once-in-a-hundred-years transformation to achieve critical climate goals.  

Jennifer Thomas
Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs
American Honda Motor Co., Inc.