The ‘love affair’ between Japanese carmaker Honda and American General Motors for developing together a line of ‘affordable’ electric cars under $30 000 ends abruptly. Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe said the automaker scraps the plans after a year-long evaluation proving a ‘changing business environment’ makes them unviable.
“After extensive studies and analysis, we have come to a mutual decision to discontinue the program. Each company remains committed to affordability in the EV market,” the companies said in a joint statement. GM, paralyzed by the strikes among American car industry workers, earlier announced slowing down the launch of several of its EV models to focus on profitability.
Range of affordable EVs
In April 2022, General Motors and Honda announced expanding their cooperation into developing a range of affordable electric cars based on a new global platform using GM’s Ultium battery technology. The plan was to produce ‘millions’ of electric cars globally from 2027, including compact crossover vehicles.
The new range was merely intended for the North American market, as said in similar announcements released by the two companies. However, according to a quote from GM CEO Mary Barra, the companies also targeted the south of the continent and China.
The collaboration would leverage both companies’ technology, design, and sourcing strategies. GM and Honda also planned to standardize equipment and processes. That $5 billion effort to beat Tesla in sales figures ends prematurely.
No final break-up
It doesn’t mean GM and Honda are separating completely. Honda’s first electric SUV for the North American market, the Prologue, is based on General Motor’s Ultium platform, with the Ultium battery pack and the flexible EV-specific platform. It is set for release in 2024, and Acura, Honda’s premium brand, will also launch its own version.
Another field of cooperation is GM’s autonomous taxi daughter, Cruise. Both companies announced a week ago that they are deepening their collaboration and planning to start offering Cruise driverless taxi services in Japan in 2026. GM and Honda co-designed the Cruise Origin, an autonomous shuttle carrying six passengers that will debut in the US next year and later in Tokyo.
Cruise under fire
But recently, California revoked Cruise’s permit to run its robotaxi service in San Francisco. The NHTSA opened an investigation into the 594 self-driving cars of Cruise after two accidents involving pedestrians.
Earlier this month, a woman fell under a Cruise robot cab after being hit by it and had to be rescued by emergency services. The robotaxi braked but was unable to avoid the collision. In another case, a pedestrian ignoring a red light was struck at 2 km/hour speed despite an evasive maneuver from the Cruise cab and was brought to hospital with a knee injury.