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Honda backs sedan to spearhead next-gen EV range
Needing an urgent boost to its EV strategy, Honda swims against the tide with non-SUV
Japanese automaker Honda has unveiled two concept EVs as part of its next generation Zero series, which it says will be ready for launch in 2026. The firm showcased an electric sedan model, called the Saloon, as well as a electric van model, with the former set to be a flagship vehicle for the EV-laggard OEM.
The concepts are futuristic and unusual, which is nothing new for concept cars. Honda, however, says that the production versions of the Zero series are already undergoing testing and that deliveries are expected in 2026.
Honda, though, is significantly behind its competitors on EVs and admits it does not have time to waste getting an EV to market. Considering how far along Honda is in the design and testing of the car, this could be a sign that Honda may stick with some of the more unusual design features of the Saloon.
"In 2026, Honda will begin introducing the first model of the Honda 0 Series globally, starting from North America, then to Japan, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East and South America," the firm says.
"The Honda Zero series is a new EV series that symbolises how Honda is undergoing a major transformation in line with its global brand slogan and electrification policy," the company continues. "The series name represents Honda’s determination in taking on this challenge of developing new EV series by going back to the starting point of Honda as an automaker and creating completely new EVs from zero."
The choice of the sedan segment for the company's flagship next generation comes at a time when the market is overwhelmingly shifting towards favouring SUV body types.
According to a recent report from the global Fuel Economy Initiative, SUVs now represent the largest share of the new car market at 51pc of registrations, having “[overtaken] sales of conventional cars” for the first time in 2022. This extends to many automakers leading their EV ranges with SUVs/crossovers, including industry leader Tesla and Detroit players Ford and GM.
"Crossovers have become the most favoured body type in major markets. They must continue to be an electrification priority. Laggards need to increase investment levels if they hope to retain significant market share," says EV consultant Randy Tyrell.
Honda's upcoming Prologue EV, developed in conjunction with GM, is a mid-size SUV, and the firm says it is planning thirty zero-emissions vehicles by 2030, amounting to 40pc of its sales.
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Although it is currently only a concept, the Saloon's low-slung and sporty appearance does not fit the mould of utilitarian EVs which dominate sales.
And considering that just 0.66pc of the cars that Honda sold worldwide in 2023 were all-electric, Honda needs not only to capture imaginations quickly, but also get BEV sales on the books to stay compliant with increasingly stringent ZEV sales quotas.
Honda will begin the long journey ahead of it with the Prologue, which is expected this year. It will be the automaker's first BEV offered in the US market, but is slated to use the GM-developed Ultium platform — a sign that its in-house electric powertrain capabilities are still lagging.