By on April 3, 2020

gm

Sometimes, if you find yourself lagging behind the pack and eagerly wish for a quick way to catapult yourself ahead, it makes sense to piggyback on someone else’s work. And in the realm of electric vehicles — brow-furrowingly pricey and time-consuming to develop as they are — automakers are coming to the conclusion that perhaps someone else should do the heavy lifting.

Subaru has Toyota, Ford has Rivian (and Volkswagen), and Honda now has General Motors.

The two automakers announced an agreement late Thursday to partner on two jointly built electric vehicles. The two models will carry the Honda badge, but underneath will sit the modular EV platform unveiled by GM a month ago, paired with the American company’s proprietary Ultium battery technology.

Honda will design the interior and bodywork, while GM workers will assemble the things in a domestic plant. The two models’ customers will be of the North American variety. Arrival date? Sales should begin in 2024, the two said in a joint announcement.

That domestic plant could well be the sprawling Detroit-Hamtramck facility that until recently sat on GM’s chopping block, but is now designated as the automaker’s first all-EV production facility. Michigan’s Orion Township plant also assembles EVs (the Chevrolet Bolt and upcoming Bolt EUV crossover). D-Ham will receive a range of vehicles all based on the new in-house platform.

gm

Of course, GM and Honda didn’t just meet up for the first time before dashing out to the parking lot for a round of whoopie. The two have eyed each other for years. Early last decade came a pact on hydrogen fuel cell development that birthed nothing consumer-friendly on this side of the ocean. Much more recently, in 2018, Honda sank a fair bit of cash into GM’s newly acquired Cruise self-driving arm, with the beginning of this year seeing the fruits of that collaboration. Behold, the Origin.

Honda also signed on to GM’s battery development efforts in 2018.

With Honda lagging in the electric vehicle field, sourcing a platform from GM and building a vehicle at its U.S. EV hub makes more sense than going it alone. Honda-badged EVs will be able to make it to consumers far quicker this way, and at a more attainable price.

“This collaboration will put together the strength of both companies, while combined scale and manufacturing efficiencies will ultimately provide greater value to customers,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., in a statement.

“This expanded partnership will unlock economies of scale to accelerate our electrification roadmap and advance our industry-leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Doug Parks, GM’s global product development boss, said the agreement “further validates the technical advancements and capabilities of our Ultium batteries and our all-new EV platform.”

Honda recently deep-sixed the limited-availability Clarity Electric, an EV version of its more popular PHEV model (and even scarcer hydrogen fuel cell version). That vehicle, available only as a lease to customers in California and Oregon, offered a very affordable monthly fee but could only travel 89 miles on a charge —  greatly limiting its usefulness and appeal. A compliance vehicle, for sure, but also a demonstration one. Overseas, the brand stands to gain some green cred when its cute-and-retro Honda E city car goes on sale this summer, but North America remains an electric wasteland for the company, minus some new hybrid efforts.

With GM’s help, that situation will change. After all, you can’t have your main rivals driving away with all the green glory.

It’s worth noting that a platform and battery pack won’t be the only thing shared between the two auto giants. As stated by GM, “Honda will incorporate GM’s OnStar safety and security services into the two EVs, seamlessly integrating them with HondaLink. Additionally, Honda plans to make GM’s hands-free advanced driver-assist technology available.”

[Images: General Motors, Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock]

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33 Comments on “Outsource to Detroit: GM Workers to Build Hondas Under EV Agreement...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    So Honda’s new GM based BEV keeps lockup/black screen infotainment screens?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Hypothesis: GM is not serious about this. Honda might be.

    Will be interesting to see if anything materializes.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      I don’t think you quite understand the arrangement. All Honda is bringing to the table is money and economies of scale. This is all GM’s technology, all of it already in development here in North America, apparently at a level “serious” enough such that Honda sees fit to throw trash bags of money at GM for the privilege of sharing it.

      You can piss on GM for a lot of things, but they’ve shown an ability to design and develop some fairly impressive hybrids & electrics. The market reception (Hybrid BoF pickups/SUVs) or the market placement (Cadillac ELR) of these products hasn’t always been grand, but the tech itself is pretty good. Honda is buying into this track record on the substrate and hoping to gild it with their own product actions. It’s a pretty safe bet for Honda, IMO, and a great way for GM to offset the huge investments they’ve made in these technologies.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Neither party is serious. After this relationship dissolves, both will have plausible deniability as to why.

      Economies of scale are everything in BEVs, and this joint venture tells me that neither company thinks they have it separately. Tesla finally has economies of scale to be (barely) profitable. Until someone can match their volume, they’ll never be profitable.

      Another gotcha: GM and Honda will be paying UAW wages to build these vehicles, and they won’t be priced for the everyman.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Meanwhile, in Detroit, a newborn baby was just named Chevonda.

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.
      This kind of cooperation and shared effort between rivals can have beneficial results sometimes… just gotta watch out for the ego-driven chief executives.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Now how about an Accord based next gen Malibu and Civic based next gen Cruze. Still building cars, problem solved.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      thegamper makes a good suggestion. Other than that, there’s nothing I’d want from this collaboration. Especially the integration of “GM’s OnStar safety and security services.” That would be the first thing I’d pull the fuse on. Or, better yet, not buy the vehicle at all.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Honda Accord sales down almost 1/3rd in March mean while GM truck sales were about the only positive.

  • avatar
    MorrisGray

    My take on this is if you were worried about Honda reliability in the last few years, this merger with GM would worry me more!

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      MorrisGray

      EVs have half as many moving parts as gas models. Any brand that goes heavily electric will completely blow away toyota for reliability.
      With Toyota fans being kind of stupid, they won’t differentiate between the two.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Morris;
    you beat me to the comment.

    Honda’s legendary quality has been steadily slipping.

    With GM’s bean counters making the decisions, the race to the bottom will only accelerate.

  • avatar
    watersketch

    This does kind of make sense. Honda and Acura customers would be much more into an electric vehicle than Chevy and Cadillac customers.

    Longer term, GM really needs a different brand if they are marketing EVs. Maybe bring back Geo or Saturn?

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      The Civic is popular with younger buyers.
      Honda’s other customers are risk averse. I don’t think they will be quick to jump on the electric bandwagon.

      GM buyers are more like Kids in a candy store. Price is the only thing keeping a large number of them out of electric vehicles.

  • avatar
    warrant242

    I know NUMMI worked out okay, but…I don’t think I’ll be buying one from the first model year.

    If it ever happens.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Oh I saw yesterday Toyota was partnering with a Chinese company to produce some EV’s. Good to see Honda has also selected a Chinese partner to do the same.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      China doesn’t do pickup trucks.
      V8 is a vegetable juice drink.
      Denali is an Alaskan national park.
      Yukon is a province in Canada
      and a Hummer is something you get at a massage parlor.

      GM is as American as: Deep dish Pizza; French Toast; Chop Suey and Borittos as big as your head. You only think it’s from somewhere else.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Platforms Made in the U.S.A.!

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    With the high development cost and the current low returns of EV, Honda really needed a partner so this makes sense.

    It was already an odd man out among the Japanese domestic manufacturers with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance on one hand and the EV CA Spirit (Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki, Isuzu, Yamaha, Daihatsu, and Hino) on another.

    Honda always seemed to prefer working with overseas manufacturers over domestic partners, so GM makes sense as much as another. (Anyone remember the Honda-Rover alliance?)

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Varezhka

      Toyota tossed Isuzu off the Island. Saying there is no future for diesel in Toyota products.

      • 0 avatar
        Varezhka

        Peter Gazis,

        I was thinking of the EV joint venture between the companies (EV C.A. Spirit Corp.), which Isuzu joined late 2018 and is still part of if I’m not mistaken. It’s mainly a Toyota, Mazda, and Denso led effort, but many of the other smaller automakers have joined onboard.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      well, there’s also the time and resources they’ve blown trying to get FCVs into the market.

      • 0 avatar
        Varezhka

        JimZ,

        I agree that’s part of a bigger issue with Honda, an overall lack of strategic management.
        The various development teams seems to work independent of each other with little direction from the top, so we end up with a lot of neat one-off models that share little parts with its corporate siblings.

        That’s why we still don’t have a global platform and end up with four (!) different hybrid systems: the
        single motor IMA (defunct), single motor i-DCD (defunct), dual-motor i-MMD (current), and three-motor SH-AWD (future development cancelled) among other things.

        I know it’s part of the company culture since the day of Soichiro Honda, but I think they need learn to consolidate their effort more if they want to survive long term.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah – Rover Civic. Did not help.

  • avatar

    There is no consistency in GM’s vision. Last year Mary Barra said EV’s were GM’s future and the company would be producing 3 million of them in fives years time. They used this to justify cancelling just about every passenger car in their lineup. Now in just a few months, GM says that an electric vehicle future is uncertain. What was the point in closing all those plants and causing untold human suffering? Mary Barra has cause a chaotic situation at GM not seen since the days of Roger Smith thirty years ago.

    Lets not even discuss the recent problems with GM reliability, recalls, and strange styling. To top it off GM has lost the sales leadership to the superior line of FCA trucks. Mary Barra essentially has created all these problems in just a few years.

  • avatar
    psychoboy

    Isn’t this basically how Honda fast-tracked the Passport?

    I think I’ll wait until the second gen, thanks.

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    “……while GM workers will assemble the things in a domestic plant….”.
    Now what could go wrong with that?

  • avatar
    TimK

    Riding lawn mowers are built this way, it was only a matter of time before the auto companies realized they too can’t afford brand-specific manufacturing.

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