Honda Has Big Plans for its Electric Prologue SUV Co-Developed with General Motors
Japan's Honda Motor Co is a late entrant in the growing electric vehicle segment, as automakers around the world have already launched new battery-powered vehicles.
Honda has remained on the sidelines with no fully-electric vehicle on the market in the U.S. with the exception of the Clarity Electric, which was discontinued in March 2020. But the automaker has been working with General Motors on a fully-electric SUV named the Prologue which will launch in the U.S. in 2024.
Honda believes the Prologue SUV will become a big seller and is targeting annual sales of 70,000 units, Reuters reported on Monday. That sales goal will make the Prologue a competitor to Tesla's Model Y and Ford's Mustang Mach-E.
The upcoming Prologue marks the beginning of Honda's eventual transition to fully-electric vehicles. Honda plans to continually add new electric models to its lineup and aims to have sold a total of 500,000 fully-electric vehicles in the U.S by 2030.
Over the next 20 years, Honda plans to achieve 100% zero emission vehicles sales in North America, following other automakers like GM, Volvo and Volkswagen that plan to phase out internal combustion engine models as early as 2030. GM is targeting 2035 for 100% of its passenger vehicles to be zero emissions.
Honda and GM are also co-developing an electric SUV for Honda's luxury brand Acura, as well as a multi-passenger autonomous shuttle called the Origin with GM's autonomous driving arm Cruise.
The self-driving Origin EV, which was unveiled in Jan 2020, is designed for a commercial robotaxi service similar to Uber that GM and Cruise plans to launch in the near future.
The upcoming Honda Prologue SUV will be based on GM's Ultium EV platform, a modular EV architecture and a battery system that can serve as a core foundation for multiple electric models. Honda is designing the body of the vehicle.
GM said it will assemble the Prologue and the Acura SUV in the U.S. but Honda has yet to disclose which U.S. plant will build the two vehicles, or the volume targets for the Acura-branded version.
Following the GM-built models, Honda will introduce a series of electrified vehicles through 2030 based on its in-house developed "e-Architecture" EV platform. These vehicles will be built at various Honda plants in North America.
Honda has been assembling cars in the U.S. since 1982. In 2020, around two thirds of all Honda and Acura sold vehicles in the U.S. were assembled here. Of Honda's eight dedicated auto plants in the U.S., three are located in Ohio.
Dave Gardner, executive vice president of national operations at American Honda Motor Co, said in a statement to Reuters that the automaker will initially focus Prologue sales on California, which has the highest EV sales in the U.S., then to other states like Texas and Florida.
Since the Prologue won't launch until 2024, Honda plans to introduce more hybrid-electric models until then.
"Our strategy is focused on introducing a higher percentage of hybrids in core models in the near term, making a committed effort to achieve higher volume leading to the introduction of our Honda Prologue," Gardner told Reuters.
It's expected that Honda will enter into more partnerships like the one with GM as the company transitions to electrification. As the auto industry pivots toward widespread electrification, traditional automakers making the switch to EVs don't always have the means to engineer and manufacture all of the components that go into them.
From batteries to software, EVs require a different type of manufacturing compared to vehicles with internal combustion engines. So Honda borrowing GM's Utium EV platform to underpin its first mass-market EV makes sense.
Although Honda has not released any official renderings of the Prologue SUV, the automaker said in June it will share more details about the upcoming EV in the coming months.
Honda will also engage with customers throughout the launch starting with a new website at https://automobiles.honda.com/future-cars/prologue.
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