Honda's Plan: More Hybrids, Fewer Trims, and a New Platform

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
hondas plan more hybrids fewer trims and a new platform

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.

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.”

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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  • Jeff S Jeff S on May 09, 2019

    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.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on May 11, 2019

    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.

  • Kwik_Shift I like, because I don't have to look at them. Just by feel and location while driving.
  • Dwford This is the last time we are making these, so you better hurry up and buy (until the next time we make them, that is)
  • FreedMike @Tim: "...about 40 percent of us Yanks don't live in a single-family home."Keep in mind that this only describes single family **detached** homes. But plenty of other house types offer a garage you can use to charge up in - attached single family homes (townhouses, primarily), or duplex/triplex/four-plexes. Plus, lots of condos have garages built in. Add those types of housing in and that 40% figure drops by a lot. Regardless, this points out what I've been thinking for a while now - EV ownership is great if you have a garage, and inconvenient (and more expensive) if you don't. The good news if you're looking for more EV sales is that there are literally hundreds of millions of Americans who have garages. If I had one, I'd be looking very closely at buying electric next time around.
  • Matthew N Fanetti I bought a Silver1985 Corolla GTS Hatchback used in 1989 with 80k miles for $5000. I was kin struggling student and I had no idea how good the car really was. All I knew was on the test drive I got to 80 faster than I expected from a Corolla. Slowly I figured out how special it was. It handled like nothing I had driven before, tearing up backroads at speeds that were downright crazy. On the highway I had it to about 128mph on two occasions, though it took some time to get there, it just kept going until I chickened out. I was an irresponsible kids doing donuts in parking lots and coming of corners sideways. I really drove it hard, but it never needed engine repair even to the day I sold it in 1999 with 225000 miles on it, still running well - but rusty and things were beginning to crap out (Like AC, etc.). I smoked a same year Mustang GT - off the line - by revving up and dumping the clutch. Started to go sideways, but nothing broke or even needed attention. Daily driving, only needed the clutch into first. It was that smooth and well-synced. Super tight, but drivable LSD. Just awesome from daily chores to super-fun.To this day I wish I had kept it, because now I have the money to fix it. It is hard to explain how amazing this car was back in the day - and available to people with limited money - and still the highest quality.
  • Cprescott Well, duh. You will pay more to charge a golf cart than an ICE of the same size if you charge externally. Plus when you factor in the lost time, you will pay through the nose more than an ICE on lost opportunity costs. Golf car ownership savings is pure myth.