By on May 8, 2019

Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo provided a run-down of his company’s future on Wednesday, revealing a new global architecture slated to underpin a slew of vehicles in the coming decade.

Efficiency was the thread connecting all of Hachigo’s promises — efficiency in development, in manufacturing, and in driving. The company feels it has a good thing in its two-motor hybrid system, so a decision was made to spread it around. As for upcoming models, Honda suggests its future lineup might not be as diverse as it is today.

These changes won’t take place overnight, but they are on the way. In a concise address, Hachigo laid it all out. The CEO lamented that, “as a result of accommodating regional needs somewhat excessively in each individual region, we recognize that the number of models and variations at the trim and option level have increased and our efficiency has declined.”

What to do? Slash trims and build configurations — and maybe models.

“With this initiative, by 2025, we will reduce the total variations at the trim and option level for our global markets to one-third of what we have now,” Hachigo said. “In addition, we will increase efficiency by eliminating and consolidating some similar regional models into even more competent models shared across multiple regions.”

A new global architecture is on the way to underpin these future models, first appearing beneath a global model launching next year. Hachigo didn’t give away the model’s identity. Is it the next-generation Fit? Not likely, as that model makes its appearance later this year.

Image: Honda

Honda’s new efficiency push carries over into its branding decisions, it seems. The name of Honda’s new vehicle architecture? “Honda Architecture.”

“With the strengthening of global and regional models through inter-regional coordination and collaboration and with the introduction of the Honda Architecture, by 2025 we will reduce the number of manhours we use for development of mass-production models by 30 percent,” Hachigo said, adding that the automaker will “repurpose those manhours to accelerate our research and development in advanced areas for the future.”

With an eye on its bottom line, Honda hopes to leave no production capacity unutilized. Recall that Honda’s ending production in the UK before long, preferring to build certain Civic in a market that isn’t so soft. In China, the company expects to reach full capacity by 2022. In America, Hachigo mentioned the need to boost “the efficiency of our production system.”

American buyers can also expect a trim and option cull, Hashigo said, all part of an effort to reduce production costs by 10 percent on a global scale.

As for the electric vehicles most automakers can’t stop talking about, Honda is a reluctant adopter. Yes, there’s an EV city car launching this year in Europe, as well as a new partnership with General Motors, but North American buyers can expect more new hybrids than EVs. Honda sees the technology as a happy medium with lots of customer appeal and few drawbacks.

“At Honda, in light of the required infrastructure and how people use automobiles, we believe that hybrid technology is, at this moment, the most effective way for us to comply with CAFE standards,” Hachigo said.

“To this end, we will expand the application of our i-MMD 2-motor hybrid system to the entire lineup of Honda vehicles. In addition to the i-MMD hybrid system, which is compatible with mid-to-large-sized vehicles, we developed a new, more compact i-MMD hybrid system suitable for small-sized vehicles. This small-sized i-MMD hybrid system will be adopted by the all-new Fit which we are planning to exhibit as a world premiere at the Tokyo Motor Show this autumn.”

2017 Honda CR-V - Image: Honda

If there was any lingering doubt that Honda will eventually bring the CR-V Hybrid to North America, let Hachigo’s words remove it. Cost of the new hybrid system should drop by 25 percent by 2020, he added, leading to lower, more competitive sticker prices for consumers.

Still, as excited as Honda is about hybrids, new electric vehicles will arrive in North America to supplement the limited-market (and range) Clarity EV.

“We will efficiently introduce our battery EVs to the market by selecting the most appropriate partners and resources to satisfy the different needs in each region,” the CEO said. “In North America, we will jointly develop battery components with General Motors and introduce highly-competitive battery EVs in the market.”

[Images: Honda]

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33 Comments on “Honda’s Plan: More Hybrids, Fewer Trims, and a New Platform...”

  • avatar

    Goodbye Accord Sport with a manual.

  • avatar

    Thanks Obama voters.

  • avatar

    I’m on board. I agree that normal hybrids are the best way to reduce emissions for the forseeable future.

    • 0 avatar

      They are.

      Making each “side” of the drivetrain more compact, and less costly, is the key to reduce their “overlap” downside. As is integrating them better into the structure of the car overall; allowing them to contribute to, for example crash, protection, rather than being a hindrance. All of which is largely engineering problems, rather than more fundamental gotchas, as is the case with BEVs and FCVs.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly. I’d wager it’s cheaper/easier to make a hybrid than it is to make standalone engines that will be compliant into the future. I’m sure Honda will maximize the efficiencies of scale by implementing this setup.

        And for the people crying about the death of the manual here… Honda made 3 pedal hybrids back in the day. I’m hopeful. They may be able to use hybridization to bring back natural aspiration. A worthy compromise IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      …except for all the environmental nastiness associated with battery production and disposal….

      • 0 avatar

        Oh but we don’t need to talk about that. Doesn’t fit the ‘green narrative’. OR the fact that your meager fuel savings hybrids offer will be quickly offset by that bigger car payment. Now, when brownie points with the granola and tofu crowd gain acceptance as currency THEN you’ll have the last laugh…

        • 0 avatar

          Typical Trumper. Strong economy, deregulatory environment, controlled geopolitical conflict. It’s not enough. The mere suggestion by a company to comply with regulations implemented by legally elected officials infuriates you. Are we citizens or toddlers?

      • 0 avatar

        Hybrid battery packs aren’t nearly the size of those in pure BEVs. And they reduce emissions where it matters, in dense cities. Out in the open, where the ice pulls the load, emissions rarely reach problematic concentrations anyway.

        Ideally, all cars would be powered by Hope and Change and nothing else. But in the real world, hybrids attack emission problems in the most sensible and effective way.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          True, as long as you live in a Western metropolis. If, however, you live in the Third World where the toxic raw materials used to build the batteries is mined and processed……

          As for hybrid tech, I agree it is a very good fit for many first world applications. Hybrid tech is perfect for taxis and most suburban families for the daily commute, school run,and weekly shop.

          • 0 avatar

            “Toxic” raw materials… you mean like lithium, which is literally a salt and typically produced much like sea salt? Horsefeathers.

            Cobalt? Sure, I’m with you there. But I’m pretty damn sure oil production has led to more human rights abuses. Ask Ken Saro-Wiwa. Or the first severed head to roll by you in Saudi Arabia.

    • 0 avatar

      A Hybrid Odyssey would certainly give the Pacifica a run for its money.

      It really wouldnt surprise me to learn that this is the last generation of the Odyssey, though. It sells decently, for a minivan, but that doesn’t amount to much and many of the intenders could be moved to a Pilot.

    • 0 avatar

      > normal hybrids are the best way to reduce emissions for the forseeable future.

      I’d have to say that it would be go close the light-truck EPA classification loophole. Stop selling CRV’s and convert them to Accord wagons, shave 200 pounds off of each car, multiple that by fleet sales.

  • avatar

    Is the Civic the size of a 1980s Crown Vic yet?

  • avatar

    Cut options….. Only offer shades of silver and only black interiors
    WAIT …. they already do that :=)

  • avatar

    I would take a hard look at a Fit Hybrid, especially if it had some plug-in range.

  • avatar

    This sounds oddly familiar to the One Ford strategy.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    He didn’t address why the Civic SI/Type R are so ugly and why there’s no budget sports car in the portfolio (smirk)

  • avatar

    The part missing in this article is where Honda expects to have worldwide plant utilization all the way to 100% by 2022, up from a current 90%. That’ll reduce choice right there, because no Marketing Dept ever, ever nailed the correct product mix the factories are scheduled to make – because trying to predict customer preference with confidence is a fool’s game. So a lot of dead duck unwanted product gets made and has to be flogged off cheap to the couldn’t care less except for price crowd – a well-known TTAC large readership niche posing as car enthusiasts.

    Cutbacks to product amount to fewer exterior/interior color combinations and fewer trim lines. Probably from five kinds of Accords being reduced to three, say, reading between the lines. Going to two global platforms is hardly a gobsmacking move – Honda would be about last to do that of the majors. VW MQB and MLB, Toyota TNGA 1 and 2, Volvo regular and CMP, Nissan something or other who cares, etc.

    Honda has always been parsimonious on color combinations. Accord Sports in only four exterior colors, etc. They really want to be a Model T maker – black color, open or closed body, what more do yah want, anyway, yah complaining creeps?

    Back in the late ’70s, in my industry we were finding that introduction of flexible manufacturing meant easy customization of product was in the wind. Bean counters worldwide quashed that possible utopia; better manufacturing capabilities met the emerging digital electronics world and meant that the variations were just set by pin settings on a circuit board. One ugly box met everyone’s needs sorta, kinda without being excellent at anything, and the world has embraced mediocrity ever since.

    Meanwhile, Toyota gives you two types of Camry each with three trim levels. The main differentiator is the grille. Completely off-putting bashed-in-face-alligator grin from vacuum-formed plastic in one setup; beyond-bad-taste cyclops goofiness on the other. So maybe Honda’s cutting customer choice to the bone is no loss, and only being 40% of Toyota’s size,they have less money to play with anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      Could very well amount to a strategy like that found in the Australian market with Honda’s offerings like the Accord. Two engines and maybe two trims for each. (Even the basic trim gets a fuller complement of options, like a decent stereo.)

      They really don’t need the Sport trim for example — it’s just bigger wheels and maybe a sway bar and a rear spoiler. Let the dealer sell those as accessories. LX, EX, EX-L, Touring. Done.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My only concern would be the longevity of the CVT transmission unless it is a hybrid. Honda currently doesn’t have that much choice in exterior and interior colors. I do hope Honda doesn’t limit interiors to just gray and black. My wife prefers the tan interior which limited our choice on the CRV to white and a funny shade of blue-she chose the diamond white.

    • 0 avatar

      That Parchment looks awesome — my new Radiant Red Accord will have that as the interior color.

      Although, more bits of the interior are going all-black in a lot of the cars. Black felt..err..CARPET has been in for a bit, and now the seat belts in the Accords are back to black. (Back in the ‘80s, that was an ace-of-base hallmark!)

  • avatar

    So are they dropping defective turbo engines too? Make it all hybrid, no turbos. I for one would go only for full electric – no oil change, no transmission to worry about considering Honda’s bad reputation in that area, no self-destructing Honda turbo engines – simple and reliable electric motor and that’s all you need.

    • 0 avatar

      @inside: There is maintenance. In 80k miles and almost 5 years, I’ve had to add several gallons of windshield wiper fluid, a few sets of wipers, a set of tires, and a replacement of the 12v system battery which was about $70 at Autozone. Battery still has all 12 bars.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would rather have a hybrid than an all turbo motor. I am not ready for all electric until the batteries become less expensive, smaller, longer range, and more charging is available.

  • avatar

    Is this a proper hybrid system, or more like Honda’s joke of a 13-horsepower IMA transmission sandwich motor? I didn’t think Honda was capable of making a bad car…but driving a Civic Hybrid and previous-gen Insight Hybrid (“the poor man’s Prius”) modified that view.

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