TokYO - Honda Motor plans to launch production lines dedicated to electric vehicles and install its first electric vehicle brand in China as the Japanese automaker doubles down on the industry's electrification trend in the world's biggest auto market.
Honda's two joint ventures with local partners Dongfeng Motor and GAC Group will each set up new production lines, the company said Wednesday. They would be Honda's first such specialized facilities.
GAC Honda will invest about 3 billion yuan $465 million in capacity in Guangzhou, ramping up annual capacity by 120,000 units, information submitted to local authorities shows. A similar update is also expected at a Dongfeng Honda plant and the aim is to get the new lines up and running in 2024.
Honda had previously sold electric vehicles under brands supplied by partners. With new developments in the e-N series, you can start with a sport utility vehicle in spring 2015, while a coupe is under development. The plan calls for rolling out 10 models of familiar EVs featuring the first H emblem over the next five years.
While driving ranges and prices of electric vehicles planned for EVs were not disclosed, electric vehicles under joint venture brands sell for 150,000 to 180,000 yuan with a range of around 480 km. The higher e-N vehicles are expected to carry higher price tags.
Also, Honda wants to pack advanced features into the envisioned vehicles, including a real display as well as such tools as map suggestions based on a large-scale traffic conditions.
At Fourin, a Japan-based automotive market research and company, having a broad range of state-of-the-art technologies from autonomous driving to AI and voice command will be key to the sales of the new vehicles.
Honda intends to open other dealerships in urban areas and will consider exporting the vehicles to urban markets.
In April, Honda unveiled the ambitious goal of staying gasoline-free through 2040. If China is to grow the capacity of electric or fuel cell vehicles and hence increase the proportion to be 40% by 2035, it aims for 40% of its sales to be electric or fuel cell. In China, Honda sold 9,418 electric cars last year, accounting for less than 1% of total sales. Starting in 2030, the company will make a complete switch to electric and other electrified vehicles, bidding farewell to those that use gasoline as their sole power.
The company also showed off its new Honda Sensing 360 safety system on Wednesday, featuring the addition of millimeter-wave radar units as well as a high-performance camera so that vehicles recognize all pedestrians and motorcycles around them. The system will be applied in China before being introduced to all models in developed countries by 2030.