Honda Motor Co, Japan, has just outlined its 2030 Vision. By that year, Honda says it will strive to lead the advancement of mobility and enable people everywhere in the world to improve their daily lives. It plans to do so by “creating value for mobility and daily lives,” by offering products and services that are optimised based on Honda’s desire to “utilise technology to help people,” and striving to become number one in the areas of environment and safety by “leading the efforts to realise a carbon-free and collision-free society.”
In other words, “we are striving to become a company that society wants to exist,” says Takahiro Hachigo, President & Representative Director, CEO, Honda Motor Co, Japan. In an interaction with a group of journalists from India, including FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, at the Tokyo Motor Show, he says that India has now become the largest market for Honda. “We are committed to the Indian market and will launch six models in the next three years.” Excerpts:
What is Honda’s 2030 Vision?
In June this year we announced our 2030 Vision. For decades, we have been providing people the joy of freedom called mobility, and will continue to be a company that society wants to exist. The concept behind formulating the 2030 Vision was to quickly respond and overcome rapid changes in our business environment, and setting a direction that we will take next. Among other things, we strive to electrify two-thirds of our global automobile unit sales by 2030 (about 50% of our total sales, by that year, will come from hybrids, and about 15% from zero-emission vehicles).
Towards that goal, our development will put a central focus on hybrid-based models utilising a high-efficiency plug-in hybrid system unique to Honda. As for zero-emission vehicles, we will strengthen the development of electric vehicles (battery EV) in addition to fuel cell vehicles. We are strengthening our capability for the development of EVs, and in October 2016, we established within Honda R&D an Electric Vehicle Development Division, a specialised team that is in charge of developing the entire vehicle including the powertrain and body.
How important is India for Honda?
The Asia Oceania region plays a major role in Honda’s global operations, and within that region, India has become the largest market for Honda. We are committed to the Indian market and will launch six models in the next three years.
Of these six models, how many will be in the electric or hybrid space?
Of these six models, there will not be any battery EVs. However, we are considering hybrid models within this line-up for India.
How much investment will you be making on these cars? Will these be made-in-India, CKD or CBU?
These six cars will be CKD, assembled in India. A majority of investment will be for localisation of components. There is no special investment for these cars, so we cannot share exact figures.
By 2030, Honda will electrify two-thirds of its global automobile unit sales, and a major part of that electrification plan is hybrids. However, the Indian government is not providing any support to hybrid vehicles, as of now. What do you have to say on that?
However, when it comes to India, we still don’t know to what extent we can expect hybrid to grow, nor do we fully understand how much electric vehicles are likely to increase. Therefore, I think, we need to study more about government policies and laws in India.
At the same time, an advantage hybrid vehicles have is they can be used with the existing infrastructure, so our focus, as a company, is to offer Indian customers hybrid vehicles to choose from, at the right price point.
By 2020, India will move to BS-6 norms. To comply with that, auto companies have to make huge investments. At the same time, the Indian government is talking about full electrification. How much pressure is there on companies such as Honda to invest on two different, unrelated technologies?
Auto companies in India have met BS-3 and BS-4. India is now skipping BS-5 and directly moving to BS-6. It is ‘regular’ for auto companies to reduce emissions and meet norms. So, meeting BS-6 norms won’t be difficult for any company, including Honda. However, electrification is entirely different and not in line with Bharat Stage emission standards. The major issue is that the government-speak on electrification is not really clear so far.
Where does Honda stand as far as 48-volt architecture is concerned?
48-volt is a strategy for hybrid vehicles. However, Honda has i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) that has two motors and combines high efficiency systems to dramatically increase the driving distance by motor alone, without even starting the engine. This is a unique hybrid system for Honda and we want to deploy this globally.
Internal combustion engine has seen a lot of progress, and there have been attempts over the decades for improving its efficiency. Do you see the same kind of progression for EVs? How does the future of electric motor looks like in terms of progress?
There is still a lot of room for improvement in internal combustion engine, so we will continue working on that.
As far as EVs are concerned, one part is the evolution of batteries. For this, the key technologies will be cruising range (how far can you go with a battery on a single charge), how much time is required to charge the battery, and batteries have to be compact and lighter in weight. If we can make improvements in each of these areas, then I think the potential of battery EVs will expand.
Another part is infrastructure. The evolution of battery EVs will depend on to what extent the respective countries will be able to develop the infrastructure needed for running such vehicles. This is something the manufactures alone cannot do and we have to work with others, including governments, and then see what direction we will head towards.