Honda Clarity lineup at Honda R&D Center, Tochigi, Japan, June 2017
Honda has outlined its plans for the coming decade in a company-wide strategy dubbed the 2030 Vision.
As outlined in the strategy, Honda plans to follow the now-familiar path of electrifying its lineup and introducing self-driving technologies and associated mobility services.
In the area of vehicle electrification, Honda says two thirds of its cars will have some form of electrification by 2030. The focus will be on plug-in hybrid technology but pure electric and fuel cell cars are also planned.
Having focused its efforts on fuel cell cars in recent years, Honda, like many of its Japanese peers, is well behind the competition when it comes to battery-powered electric cars. Its first volume electric car, the 2018 Clarity Electric, is expected to offer only 80 miles of range.
2017 Honda Clarity Electric
Honda plans to catch up, though. The automaker established a new electric car division last year and will unveil a dedicated electric car at a major auto show this fall. It also plans to launch an electric car exclusive to the Chinese market in 2018.
Honda is also working on an electric scooter as well as a swappable battery system, though the latter isn’t confirmed for production. Honda is considering a trial of its swappable battery system with Japan Post. Tesla announced a similar system as early as 2013 but abandoned it in 2015 due to low take-up rates.
The other main focus of Honda’s future plans is self-driving technology. Honda says it aims to have a car with Level 4 self-driving capability by 2025. The target date is later than what rivals are promising (typically around 2021) but is probably more realistic, perhaps not because of the readiness of the technology but rather an accommodative regulatory environment.
A Level 4 self-driving car will allow a driver to take their eyes off the road and in some cases even nap behind the wheel. However, in certain situations, such as rough weather or changed road conditions due to an accident or road works, the driver will need to take over after being prompted well in advance. Should the driver fail to take over control, the car will be able to safely stop by the side of a road. The ultimate goal is a Level 5 car where no driver is required.
Acura RLX autonomous prototype at GoMentum Station
In the interim, Honda will start introducing more electronic driver aids grouped under its Honda Sensing suite of technologies. This will be followed by a system that will be able to handle heavy traffic on its own, freeing up the driver’s time.
And in 2020 the automaker hopes to have a system for highway driving. This will be an automated lane-changing function which enables the vehicle to drive in multiple lanes without any command from the driver.
Honda also plans mobility services but is yet to provide details.
In the more immediate term, Honda will introduce a new design direction at a major auto show this fall. The automaker will also introduce its all-new 2018 Accord this year.