By on September 3, 2020

Maybe a Civic-based Chevrolet Cruze revival isn’t an insane idea after all. On Thursday morning, General Motors and Honda announced the signing of a non-binding memorandum of understanding to pave the way for a North American alliance.

Platform and powertrain sharing in several segments would be part of this strategic tie-up, the automakers claim, leading one to wonder what the future holds for the increasingly cosy longtime rivals. 

“Under the proposed alliance, Honda and GM would collaborate on a variety of segments in North America, intending to share common vehicle platforms, including both electrified and internal combustion propulsion systems that align with the vehicle platforms,” the automakers said in a release. “Co-development planning discussions will begin immediately, with engineering work beginning in early 2021.”

A range of co-developed vehicles would be sold under both company’s core brands, the automakers said.

Much like Ford and Volkswagen, strategic alliances allow for a sharing of strengths and a reduction in R&D costs, but this proposed partnership strikes close to home. It’s reminiscent of the GM-Toyota joint venture of the 1980s and ’90s.

2018 Honda Accord Ohio assembly plant - Image: Honda

Both GM and Honda claim that the money freed up through the marriage would be put towards pricey but potentially lucrative mobility projects.

The two automakers have grown increasingly friendly in the recent past. Honda invested big to become part of the Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle project, and in April the two signed a pact to co-develop electric vehicles using GM’s Ultium battery and new EV architecture. That agreement will see two Honda vehicles launched with GM underpinnings — and even OnStar.

“Combining the strengths of each company, and by carefully determining what we will do on our own and what we will do in collaboration, we will strive to build a win-win relationship to create new value for our customers,” said Honda’s executive vice-president, Seiji Kuraishi.

For the vehicles expected to be birthed by the future alliance, R&D and development costs would be shared between the two companies. Joint purchasing would realize further savings, GM and Honda claim, along with “potential manufacturing efficiencies.”

[Images: General Motors, Honda]

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72 Comments on “GM-Honda Alliance? Quite Possibly – Both Automakers Just Signed an MoU...”


  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    This reeks of desperation by both parties. I could not imagine two more incompatible business cultures. This will end in disaster.
    :-/

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      +1 this proves Honda has lost the plot. What could GM possible offer them? Oh that’s right trucks and SUVs. So we can expect the next Ridgeline to be a Colorado badge job?

    • 0 avatar
      MorrisGray

      It might help GM somehow but I don’t see the benefit for Honda. Unless Honda lets GM start painting the cars for them. From what I read Honda has terrible paint issues. It might be better with GM painting? Although my 2002 Silverado would not be a good comparison for that statement!

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      I would urge extreme caution on the part of Honda, which has has its share of technical issues and reliability problems in recent years. I can’t see how a relationship with GM would help in any way – other than to crank out more undesirable EVs.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Well, Honda has partnered with British Leyland in the past, so they do have experience working with large dysfunctional bureaucratic organizations.

      So now are we going to see all the Chevy CUV replaced by re-bodied HR-V, CR-V, and Passports and Buicks with modified RDX and MDX? That will allow GM to truly focus on what they’re good at. Full size pickups and their SUV counterparts.

      We’ve had Saturn Vue in the past (with Honda powertrains), but I’m assuming this is more than that.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Pig_Iron
      This will be great for both companies.
      Honda will get to put its name on GM vehicles
      GM will get to put its batteries in Honda’s lawn equipment.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    I’m not sure I see much benefit to either side here in terms of product. Is GM just looking for a UAW workaround? We know they attempted to build their own US-based non-union manufacturing site in the past. Is this just a more clever attempt to reduce labor costs?

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    There must be some benefit for both parties in a re-badged Silverado, sold as a Honda Ridgeline.

    While the Ridgeline is a beloved girly-trucklet, Honda doesn’t sell enough of them to make the break-even point.

    A buyer has got to be a real Honda fanatic to want to pay >$43K for a Ridgeline RTL-E. I know a few who did, but they also own an Accord, a Pilot, and a Civic for the members of their immediate household.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The ICE powertrains might be GM-labeled, Honda-powered generators and powered lawn equipment.

      GM has a couple of battery factories in North America and a platform for Honda use it on soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Ridgeline does fine for Honda, it is just a Pilot/Odyssey with the back cut open. They roll down the same assembly line with many shared components and they can adjust the line as needed to favor what ever is selling best at the time.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “The Ridgeline does fine for Honda”

        Yes it does. It is offered as a midsize trucks for Honda fans and competes directly with GM, Ford, Toyota and Nissan midsizers/compact pickup trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @hdc: The Ridgeline competes well with those other brands’ full-sized trucks too, where massive weight and towing capacity isn’t important. It’s only about 2″ narrower than full-sized with nearly the same bed dimensions as those full-sized trucks. It’s notably bigger than any current mid-sizer in all but rooftop height.

          Oh, and an old PUTC comparison put the second-generation Ridgeline (the current version) at #2 against almost all of them in off-road prowess. I believe only the Toyota beat it off-road and even that one struggled to stay ahead of the Ridgeline.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            On the street where we stay in El Paso, TX, there is a lady (~50yrs of age) who owns a new-model Silver RTL-E with a roofrack on top of the Cab.

            She’s an artist, paints, crafts, and goes to those exhibitions and open air shows to sell and showcase her art.

            She pulls a 5X8 HaulMark trailer, the bed fully loaded with stuff, and the roofrack has an enclosed rigid-plastic case.

            So there are Ridgeline fans out there. By and large though, the cowgirls who buy a Ridgeline often also haul a one-horse trailer behind it, with the bed full of hay bales.

            Then again, where I live it is West Texas and South Central New Mexico, where the F150 is the best selling pickup truck, with RAM at Nr 2, and all others falling in line.

            Me? I’m driving my old 2011 Tundra I sold to my son. And it still works well.

            We’re in the process of selling our house in the desert since our son has moved to be with his (Japanese wife) in Japan, and that old Tundra still pulls the 9X15 HaulMark I am using to move our personal belongings to other locations before we accept an offer.

            It’s crazy right now. People from the East and CA are bidding against each other to buy our house, sight unseen.

            I kid you not!

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            Vulpine

            When the outdated Nissan Frontier outsells you 2 to 1, you have a problem.

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            HighDesertcat

            The whole story sounds made up. Like Ronald Reagan’s Cadillac driving welfare queen.
            Is your real name Chris Farley? and do you live in a van down by the river?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Peter Gazis: When I said it competes well, I’m talking about competency, not sales. The Ridgeline has never been a big seller because “truck guys” insist it’s not a “truck”, despite its shape.

            In multiple tests where the Ridgeline is included, as long as the truck is used within its capabilities, it’s as good a truck as any of the others and better for some because of the added capabilities.

            It has better soft-road chops than most because it’s not crippled by mud or sand where those other brands’ nannies cut power or aggressively apply brake to prevent wheel spin.

            The trunk in the bed floor is a lockable storage area that does not take up bed space like a rail-top tool box or even RAM’s RamBox which narrows the bed’s inside width to some extent.

            The bed’s two-way tailgate, a-la the ’70s-vintage station wagons, is an accessibility feature that is only just being revived by the big brands in different ways.

            The point is that the Ridgeline is simply easier to use but it doesn’t have the Status that so many pickup drivers want. It also simply doesn’t have the visual appeal to float everyone’s boat… looking rather boring despite its capabilities. That said, those people who own them love them for what they do and many first-generation owners purchased the second-generation model when it came time to replace them.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      HighDesertcat

      Why do you care? After November 3rd you’ll be moving to Mexico.

  • avatar
    redapple

    GM – Honda tie up gives honda access to BEV.

    GM Gets access to world class car platforms on the cheap (when consumer tastes go back to cars )

    Agree with above conmments. Cultures will mix like vinegar and oil. I worked at GM. I am a supplier to Honda. Major possible problem.

  • avatar

    What could GM possibly offer honda besides trucks with cheap interiors.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Haha these latest tie-ups seem like Daimler-Chrysler Part II, III, IV etc.

    General Motors and Honda? Seems bizarre.
    Volkswagen and Ford? Again. I can’t imagine 2 large automakers working well together like this.
    Renault-FCA. Italians and French and Americans? What could POSSIBLY go wrong.

    I see how it makes sense on the surface. Daimler and Chrysler did too. Japanese and Europeans want trucks. Americans make great ones.

    Americans might need access to cars. Europeans and Japanese make great ones.

    The rest? Don’t see it.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Question of the Day: What are the most obvious synergistic possibilities here?

    1) GM MultiPro Tailgate on Honda Pilot.

  • avatar

    Like England, America is losing its ability to design and engineer cars.

    It is looking like the Japanese and Germans are the world leaders in automotive engineering.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “It is looking like the Japanese and Germans are the world leaders in automotive engineering.”

      Been that way for awhile, I believe. And it certainly has become more pronounced since 2008/2009.

      While Ford remains the undisputed leader for putting heavy-breathing squirrel engines in their line of cars and trucks.

      But for my sedan RENTAL money, my favorite has to be the Mazda6 four-banger/automatic – the most fun to drive four-door sedan since the Hyundai Sonata V6 of yesteryear. Who knew that a four-banger could be so much fun, offer an enormous power-curve, with ride and handling not found in other sedans in America?

      So maybe we’ll see re-badged Accords posing as Malibubus if this ever comes to pass, with a CVT no less. Just the thought of it causes severe gurgling in my intestines……

      How about, not only NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…..

      But hell NO.

      • 0 avatar

        What is worst waiting in a dentist office for a root canal or browsing in a GM showroom. What is striking is the complete lack of diversity in the GM lineup.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “What is striking is the complete lack of diversity in the GM lineup.”

          In my part of the country, West Texas and SouthCentral NM, the GM dealers of choice seem motivated to make buying GM as easy and as neat as possible for the GM fans.

          Mission Chevrolet and Bravo in El Paso, TX, are the faves of many military retirees and contractors, based on selection and sales volume.

          In Albuquerque, NM, LHM Casa Chevrolet and Galles are the go to faves for GM fans, again based on selection and sales volume.

          There are many other GM dealerships around.

          The GM dealers that have the highest sales volume seem to be the ones that consistently come in with the lowest price for those who shop around.

          This doesn’t happen overnight. This takes years, if not decades, to cultivate a positive image in the public’s eye from just word-of-mouth advertising.

          Once attained, such a good, solid reputation is highly valued, and protected.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          akear,

          you already lost your credibility. He did not say Russian engineering is better. He said that Russians beat Germans because of their (German) engineering. I perfectly know what he is talking about.

          In other words, whatever Germans trying to achieve becomes their Achilles’s heel. Best example – panzerkampfwagen iv, AKA Tiger. Engineering lead for Germans being able to produce only around 1400 examples and most of them ended up broken and blown by own crews. But when they worked, it was hard to beat. The problem was that 20 would start the march and only 10 would arrive to destination on time, and might be 12 ever.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      ““It is looking like the Japanese and Germans are the world leaders in automotive engineering.””

      The Germans are definitely not leaders in auto engineering. In fact, some Chinese companies might be better. They have cars that like the i3 that are case studies in failed engineering. There’s a long list of issues with just about everything they produce. Want to learn how not to engineer a car, take a look at something German. Sometimes it seems like the goal of German auto engineers is to increase revenue for their service departments. The latest bit of entertainment on the subject that I’ve been watching is “Rich Repairs” series on his Audi RS7 on youtube. If you want an impression on the state of American engineering, watch Sandy Munro’s teardown of the Model Y.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @mcs: the i3 is not “failed engineering” but rather, failed design. For while the interior is incredibly spacious for its tiny size, the exterior is simply too polarizing–exaggerating its BEV status by simply being too different and not appealing in the same way the VW Beetle, Fiat 500 or Cooper Mini are.

        • 0 avatar

          @Vulpine: Did you tear down i3 and observe engineering solutions used in i3? Are you engineer? Or you consider only exterior/interior design? You know, Russians (and everyone else) beat Germans for the reason. There is a deep flaw in how Germans do things that makes their solutions vulnerable if conditions deviate from expectations. E.g. the winter turns out harsher than expected.

          • 0 avatar

            You lose credibility when you say Russian engineering is better than German automotive engineering.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @akear: “You lose credibility when you say Russian engineering is better than German automotive engineering.”
            — I was thinking the same thing. Russian and Chinese engineering are certainly improving but I wouldn’t, yet, equate them with German and Japanese engineering. As for American engineering, their problem is taking things too far… the nannies are TOO aggressive by far and the cars today are designed to get totaled by relatively minor crashes that would still leave the car driveable under other circumstances.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            The Soviet Union manufactured to very loose tolerances. Large gaps in their equipment meant that when frozen or caked in mud they could still operate. Fit and finish were not issues that Soviet engineers or manufacturers worried about.

            I work with a gentleman who was a senior engineer (just below Director level) at VAZ. They purchased some robotic assembly equipment from Japan but could not use it because the Japanese equipment would not work to the loose tolerances/panel gaps that were acceptable for VAZ. The robots kept shutting down, believing that there was an error/malfunction or defect.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Arthur Dailey: I won’t argue that Russian mechanical engineering has its advantages but it also has its disadvantages BECAUSE of those loose tolerances.

            But we’re talking about cars and specifically electric cars. The i3 is a decent machine for its generation and it can handle typical highway condtions reasonably well. Its range may be short but that’s due to a small battery, not due to poor efficiency. Loose tolerances simply mean poor efficiency in both the manufacturing aspect and in the final product. Given the exact same battery capacity using German vs Russian engineering, I fully expect the German product to go farther.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Won’t be the first time they’ve worked together. But I would note that the last time they did, did NOT work out well for the American brand as the product proved extremely unreliable–which is not typical Honda quality.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Terrible idea.

    “…pricey but potentially lucrative mobility projects”

    I’ve never heard how ‘mobility’ could be lucrative, yet foolish boards of directors are lapping it up. If this alliance is for that, they should stop right now.

  • avatar
    David Cardillo

    Of course, many old line, large vehicle manufacturers enter into joint “projects” with other makers from time to time, as was previously mentioned, the Honda/Saturn “marriage”, mostly badging and Honda v6’s. I recall that GM owned a sizable percentage of Isuzu, their pick-up trucks line, during the early 1970’s. What’s old is new again….

  • avatar

    The merger will probably go nowhere just like GM’s pass electric car failures. GM’s stock has not moved since the announcement.

  • avatar

    The merger will probably go nowhere just like GM’s pass electric car failures. GM’s stock has not moved since the announcement.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Isuzu, Subaru, Saab, and Suzuki teaming up with GM did not end well for the former four. I fear a little bit for Honda’s sake. That said today’s Honda is not the same company I fell in love with years ago.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I’m excited. Slapping a GM label on a Honda should save the average consumer over $2500.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Honda made a similar deal with Rover decades ago. Didn’t do much for Rover, but now Honda has some plants in England.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris C

      On the contrary – Rover (although not so much Land Rover) learnt a lot from Honda and developed a Japanese way of working which was pretty much abandoned when BMW took over. Honda learnt a lot from Rover too, but probably would not admit it – they too have rather lost the plot since then building cars to suit engineers/designers rather than their customers.

      Honda has only one plant in the UK (Swindon) and it is closing next year along with Turkey as they pull out of European manufacture.

      Honda and GM – sounds a bad idea. When you look at what Peugeot have done to turn round Vauxhall/Opel you see how badly run/inefficient GM management has been – possibly the same story with Holden’s demise?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Not the first time for either of these companies.

    1) GM and Toyota. Remember NUMMI?
    2) GM and Suzuki. CAMI?
    3) Honda and Rover (as mentioned above). Remember the Sterling?
    4) Honda and Isuzu (so partially GM). From Wikipedia: ‘In 1993 Isuzu began a new vehicle exchange program with Honda, whereby Honda sold the Isuzu Rodeo and Isuzu Trooper as the Honda Passport and Acura SLX, respectively. In return Isuzu began selling the Honda Odyssey as the Isuzu Oasis.’

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Well, they do cover each other’s weaknesses. GM can’t make passenger cars that people want to buy; Honda can’t make trucks that people want to buy. This lets both of them focus their resources on what they do best, and rebadge the rest.

    More important for the future though, it gives Honda access to Ultium batteries, and gives GM someone to help pay the cost of ramping up Ultium production. Battery availability is a bottleneck in rolling out EVs and PHEVs. Every company not called Tesla has supply problems in this area. (And even Tesla found the limits of their system, wherein Panasonic builds batteries under their roof, when Panasonic declined to invest to ramp up battery production to match car production plans…Tesla had to scramble and adopt a whole different battery technology for its Chinese-market Model 3 cars.) It appears GM is biting the bullet and becoming a battery development and production company. That won’t be cheap — but it will let them deliver EVs instead of excuses.

    (It would be rad if Hyundai/Kia would do the same. It boggles my mind how much gullible good press they have gotten for cars that are available only in tiny quantities in only a handful of states, supposedly because batteries are in short supply. )

    • 0 avatar

      GM will be lucky to sell 40,000 EVs annually. They would be better off selling 200,000 Cruzes a year instead. I don’t believe GM is even going to find 10,000 customers for their electric Hummer. I predict in a decade GM will be almost completely out of the EV business. This EV movement is a fad, and like most fads it won’t last.

  • avatar

    What is worst waiting in a dentist office for a root canal or browsing in a GM showroom. What is striking is the complete lack of diversity in the GM lineup.

    Brock Yates was right 30 years ago when he stated GM would go bankrupt and the fade away as another automaker bought them out. GM needs a merger because they are not good enough to survive alone. Even GM trucks are mediocre.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    I’m always looking for a 05-07 Saturn Vue with the Honda v6 and trans I said looking, one day I’ll pull the trigger – Grampa, you got a low mileage garage baby for cheap?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @redgolf: The Honda V6 drivetrain in the VUE was notoriously bad. Oh, it worked well WHEN it worked, but it seemed to constantly break down, according to many owners I knew. My Opel L4 with dual-stage sport clutch on the 5-speed manual was rock solid by comparison–not a single engine issue in 150,000 miles and the clutch plates lasted over 120,000 miles over the course of 12 years driving. Amazing fuel mileage too for its age, purchased in 2002 and achieving 30mpg plus in numerous bi-annual trips down I-81 from PA to TN at posted speed limits.

      When we sold the car to my Father-in-Law after 12 years, he was amazed at the fuel economy and performance compared to his other vehicles and used it as his daily driver until a difficult-to-access power steering computer finally went flaky. (Part of the BCM for the model.)

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Weird. Is Honda looking for a body on frame SUV now?

  • avatar
    ect

    Not just these 2 companies, strategic alliances between large companies have a pretty sorry history. Not only (as Pig Iron notes) do cultures need to be aligned, but so do strategic aspirations.

    • 0 avatar

      Honda has a great history, while GM’s history is somewhat checkered. The last 40 years have not been kind to GM.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I think GM has a great history. In WW2 (wiki):

        “General Motors ranked first among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts.[16] GM’s William S. Knudsen served as head of U.S. wartime production for President Franklin Roosevelt. The General Motors UK division, Vauxhall Motors, manufactured the Churchill tank series for the Allies. The Vauxhall Churchill tanks were instrumental in the UK campaigns in North Africa. Bedford Vehicles and GM of Canada, CMP manufactured 500,000 logistics vehicles for the UK military, all important in the UK’s land campaigns. In addition to the obvious manufacture of motor vehicles for the Allied cause, GM was also a major manufacturer of aircraft. ”

        But they also produced Opel-built stuff for Nazis.

        Waht are you talking about. GMs history vs Honda is way richer.

        • 0 avatar

          GM history in the last 40 years is no so good. The GM of 75 years ago has very little in common with today’s GM. For one thing when the PSA/FCA merger goes through GM will drop to fifth place in world sales.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    That has to be the laziest photochop job I’ve seen in quite some time.

    Does Honda offer a manufacturing philosophy that GM hopes to learn from, as was the goal with Toyota? I don’t see it, but then Honda doesn’t offer much that I’m interested in anymore. I liked the 2.0 Accord that I test drove, but that’s about it.

  • avatar

    Nothing GM makes approaches Honda’s quality standards.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Honda admits they have big quality issues. They have been horrible. What is your comment about in this context?

      • 0 avatar

        Honda does quit well in annual Consumer Report surveys. Last time I checked Cadillac was in last place in the latest survey. For the last 40 years GM has had chronic quality problems. These quality issues have been mentioned many times on this site.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          If I was forced to make a choice TODAY between a GM vehicle and a Honda vehicle made in the US, even one with a CVT, I’d choose a Honda vehicle in a heartbeat. No two ways about it!

          And I used to be quite the GM fan, specifically an Oldsmobile fan.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Honda as general never was “all that great”. It was at one point when their lineup was – civic, accord, prelude. Then they started badging Isuzus. Then their first full size Odyssey, 1999, was horrible. And then there were many bad reliability items in Honda lineup. Today they still did not sort out 1.5L T engines. They were plagued by transmission issues. v6 engine issues with motors blowing. They had massive class action suits against them. And they have the most TSBs of all manufacturers.

          For 2020 Honda did not make 1 vehicle into CR top 10
          But managed to have MDX in the bottom 10
          No single Honda/Acura in top 20

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            There was a period circa 1981 to about the turn of the century when their cars, Civic, Accord, Prelude and CRX were superior to just about anything in their respective categories.

            Later the CR-V was probably the top in it category.
            The Element is still highly regarded.

            And do not forget the Acura Legend and Integra. Both benchmarks in their categories and nearing ‘legendary’ status.

            Then there is JB’s Accord 6 cylinder, manual, coupe. Also reported to be the best in its category.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This is an alliance and not a merger. I doubt Honda wants to merge with GM nor do they want to buy GM. This alliance could possibly not come to fruition.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yeah they have signed a non-binding MOU, which means that they have agreed to talk about an alliance, have a general idea of what they want to do, but haven’t finalized details and either party may walk away if the fell it isn’t going where they want it to.

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