Honda to go all-in on EVs, fuel cells by 2040

TOKYO — Honda will phase out internal combustion engines in all new automobiles by 2040 under an aggressive electrification plan unveiled by Toshihiro Mibe, the automaker’s new CEO.

Mibe, who took office April 1, outlined the new target in a news conference on Friday, pitching it as a step toward achieving companywide carbon neutrality by 2050.

Honda will achieve the goal in steps, first deriving 40 per cent of its sales in major markets from pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2030. It wants that share of EVs and fuel cells to reach 80 per cent in major markets in 2035, and then 100 per cent in all markets by 2040.

Japan’s No. 3 automaker also set out lofty 2050 goals of achieving carbon neutrality in all products and corporate activities and of realizing zero traffic fatalities in its motorcycles and automobiles. It also wants to develop products from 100 per cent sustainable materials.

“The hurdles are quite high,” said Mibe, who was formerly head of Honda’s R&D division. “But I think we can get them. The fact that we have set targets clearly is the first step toward that goal.”

A centerpiece of the plan is the ambitious electrification roadmap. Honda, a company which helped pioneer gasoline-electric hybrid technology, currently sells only one EV, the low-volume small Honda e hatchback.

The company had previously wanted to derive two-thirds of its global volume from standard hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric cars and fuel cell vehicles by 2030.

Now, it targets 40 per cent from just pure EVs and fuel cells by that year.

Mibe said breakthroughs in battery technology will be important to making good on the push to completely phase out traditional combustion and gasoline-electric hybrids by 2040.

Among those innovations will be solid-state batteries. Honda will start verifying production of solid-state batteries on a demonstration line this fiscal year, Mibe said. The company plans to deploy solid-state batteries in new models from the second half of the 2020s.

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