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General Motors Forms Alliance with Japan's Honda, Will Co-Develop Vehicles for North America

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【Summary】U.S. automaker General Motors (GM) announced its forming an alliance with Japan’s Honda Motor Co to develop electrified vehicles as well as new propulsion technologies. The goal of the partnership is to accelerate innovation by combining resources.

Eric Walz    Sep 03, 2020 9:45 AM PT
General Motors Forms Alliance with Japan's Honda, Will Co-Develop Vehicles for North America

U.S. automaker General Motors (GM) announced its forming an alliance with Japan's Honda Motor Co to develop electrified vehicles as well as new propulsion technologies. As part of the partnership, the two automakers will share vehicle platforms for fully-electric and combustion engine powered models.

The goal of the partnership is to accelerate innovation by combining resources for the development of next-generation vehicle technologies. The agreement follows extensive discussions between the two automakers.

The partnership may include a range of new vehicles being sold under each company's distinct brands, as well as cooperation in purchasing, research and development, and connected services.

The alliance will be governed by a joint committee made up of senior executives from both companies.

"This alliance will help both companies accelerate investment in future mobility innovation by freeing up additional resources. Given our strong track record of collaboration, the companies would realize significant synergies in the development of today's vehicle portfolio," said Mark Reuss, president of General Motors.

Under the proposed alliance, Honda and GM would collaborate on a variety of vehicles for North America. GM said that co-development planning discussions will begin immediately, with engineering work starting in early 2021.

Honda and GM are already working together to jointly develop an EV, although the scope of their initial collaboration was much smaller, focusing on an autonomous shuttle for a commercial robotaxi service. 

Honda most recently worked with GM on the development of the new Origin autonomous shuttle for GM's autonomous driving division Cruise. The Origin was unveiled earlier this year. The vehicle is intended to be used as part of a planned commercial robotaxi service that GM aims to launch with Cruise.

The futuristic self-driving Origin shuttle was heavily engineered by Honda, with GM supplying the electric powertrain and Cruise tasked with developing the hardware and autonomous driving systems.

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The Cruise Origin autonomous shuttle was co-developed by Cruise, GM and Honda for a commercial robotaxi service.

In addition to today's official announcement, in April, GM and Honda announced they will jointly develop two all-new electric vehicles for Honda based on GM's highly flexible global EV platform powered by GM's new Ultium batteries.

GM unveiled its new EV platform in March. The scalable vehicle architecture can be shared between models and helps to simplify EV production, thereby lowering production costs. GM's modular EV platform will help the company build more affordable electric vehicles at scale. 

Most of the new EVs will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast-charging capability.  The platform houses the electric motor and transmission and electronics in a single compact assembly. It's designed to be powered by GM's new Ultium batteries. 

The all-new global platform is flexible enough to build a wide range of trucks, SUVs, crossovers, cars and commercial vehicles with "outstanding design, performance, range and affordability," GM said during the unveiling.

Shared Development Costs

GM and Honda also plan to share R&D and engineering costs for select future co-developed vehicles and propulsion platforms. This would help to free up capital, allowing both companies to further invest in various future mobility trends, such as connected vehicle technology.

In April, Honda announced it will incorporate GM's OnStar safety, security and connected services into the two all-new electric vehicles for Honda based on GM's new EV platform. The platform will integrate Honda's own connected vehicle technology HondaLink. 

Based on that collaboration, GM and Honda will explore further co-development opportunities for future connected services, including GM's OnStar and in-vehicle infotainment services.

"Through this new alliance with GM, we can achieve substantial cost efficiencies in North America that will enable us to invest in future mobility technology, while maintaining our own distinct and competitive product offerings. 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 Seiji Kuraishi, executive vice president of Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

An alliance in North America between Honda and GM will combine some of the best technologies from both companies and generate substantial cost efficiencies from shared vehicle platforms. This would enable both GM and Honda to make greater investments in advanced and next-generation technologies.

Both Honda and GM are racing to catch up with electric automaker Tesla, which is now the world's most valuable automaker. Co-developing new models will help both automakers to speed development and reduce costs.

In July, GM released its tenth annual sustainability report, which provides the public an update on GM's key accomplishments in 2019, including the development of new electric vehicles and environmental stewardship.

The report confirms GM's commitment to electrification and outlines the automaker's plans to introduce 12 new fully-electric models by 2023. Now that GM has announced its new alliance with the Japanese automaker, several of these new EVs will likely be co-developed with Honda.

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