Japan’s Honda outlines strategy to push electric vehicles

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TOKYO (AP) — Honda will invest 5 trillion yen ($40 billion) in research over the next decade, particularly to realize a large-scale shift to green electric vehicles, the Japanese automaker said Tuesday.

Products and services at the plants will account for more than half of the 8 trillion yen ($64 billion) research and development budget during this period, and will be tailored to each major market, the United States, China and Japan.

Efforts in North America will focus on working with General Motors Co., under which Honda Motor Co. is co-developing two mid-to-large EVs scheduled for launch in 2024.

By 2027, Honda plans, also as part of its alliance with GM, to offer an affordable electric vehicle that will compete in performance and price with gas-powered models.

Top automakers are accelerating electric car supply amid pressing climate change concerns while adopting new types of fuels like biofuel and hydrogen-powered fuel cells.

Honda will launch 30 EV models worldwide by 2030 and aim to produce more than 2 million vehicles per year, according to the maker of the Accord sedan, Asimo robot and Gold Wing motorcycles.

They will cover the entire model range, from small vans to muscular sports cars.

“We will continue to provide the driving pleasure that our customers have come to expect from Honda,” said Chief Executive Toshihiro Mibe.

In China, where the shift to electric vehicles is particularly optimistic, Honda will introduce 10 new EV models by 2027.

In Japan, a market dominated by gasoline-electric hybrids, Honda is starting with small commercial vehicles such as delivery vans.

Companies are likely to be more open to such investments because of the Japanese government’s sustainability goals, officials said.

A commercial mini-EV model in the 1 million yen ($8,000) price range will hit the market in Japan in 2024, while other EVs, including sport-utility models, for ordinary consumers will follow, they said.

By the late 2020s, Honda hopes for a breakthrough in next-generation batteries.

It will also develop related software, as electric vehicles need charging infrastructure and could add features like robotics and avatars.

Like other automakers, Honda lost business during the coronavirus pandemic. But it forecasts an operating profit of 800 billion yen ($6.4 billion) for the fiscal year ended March.

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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