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General Motors and Honda to Co-Develop Electric Vehicles as Part of an Expanded Partnership

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【Summary】​U.S. automaker General Motors is expanding its partnership with Japan's Honda Motor Co. The two automakers will co-develop new and more affordable electric vehicles in all segments, including passenger cars and SUVs. As part of the expanded collaboration, the two companies will work together to enable global production of millions of jointly-developed EVs starting in 2027.

Eric Walz    Apr 05, 2022 8:00 AM PT
General Motors and Honda to Co-Develop Electric Vehicles as Part of an Expanded Partnership
Gm and Honda will work together to enable the global production of millions of EVs starting in 2027.

U.S. automaker General Motors is expanding its partnership with Japan's Honda Motor Co. The two automakers will co-develop new and more affordable electric vehicles in all segments, including passenger cars and SUVs.

As part of the expanded collaboration, the two companies said they will work together to enable the global production of millions of EVs starting in 2027. The partnership will leverage the two companies' strengths in technology, design and supply chains.

The electric vehicle jointly produced by GM and Honda will include popular segments like compact electric crossovers. The compact crossover segment is the largest in the world, with annual volumes of more than 13 million vehicles.

"GM and Honda will share our best technology, design and manufacturing strategies to deliver affordable and desirable EVs on a global scale, including our key markets in North America, South America and China," said GM chair and CEO, Mary Barra.  "This is a key step to deliver on our commitment to achieve carbon neutrality in our global products and operations by 2040 and eliminate tailpipe emissions from light duty vehicles in the U.S. by 2035. By working together, we'll put people all over the world into EVs faster than either company could achieve on its own."

The companies will also work toward standardizing equipment and processes to achieve world-class vehicle quality and greater affordability through economies of scale. Part of the affordability aspect will include EV battery technology collaboration opportunities, to further drive down the costs of electrification, improve performance and drive sustainability for future vehicles.

The high cost of batteries is one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption right now. That cost is passed on to buyers, which makes electric vehicles much more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts.

For example, the costs to produce EV batteries fell to $132 a kWh in late 2021, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which tracks the industry. For a typical EV with a 70 kWh battery pack, that translates into roughly $9,240, which makes it difficult for automakers, including segment leader Tesla, to build more affordable EVs.

As part of GM's plans to transition to an electric-only automaker, the company is already working to develop new battery chemistries, including lithium-metal, silicon and solid-state batteries. GM is also developing production methods that can quickly be used to improve and update battery cell manufacturing processes. 

Separately, Honda has been making progress on all-solid-state battery technology, which the company sees as the core element of future EVs. Honda already established a demonstration line in Japan for the production of solid-state batteries and is making further progress toward mass-production, according to GM.

The expanded partnership builds on the previous collaboration with GM's autonomous driving unit Cruise. GM and Honda co-developed the Cruise Origin autonomous multi-passenger electric vehicle that will be used for an autonomous ride-hailing service that Cruise aims to launch in San Francisco in the near future. The highly configurable Origin will also be used for autonomous last mile delivery services.

The Origin shuttle was heavily engineered by Honda, with GM supplying the electric powertrain components and Cruise tasked with developing the vehicle's hardware and autonomous driving systems.

In Sept 2020, GM and Honda announced plans to co-develop two EVs for North America, including the forthcoming Honda Prologue SUV, which is slated to be launched in early 2024. The Prologue will be followed by another electric SUV from Honda's luxury brand Acura. 

GM unveiled its new Utium EV platform in March 2020. The scalable EV architecture can be shared between models and helps to streamline production, thereby lowering costs. GM said its modular EV platform will help it build more affordable electric vehicles at scale. 

"Honda is committed to reaching our goal of carbon neutrality on a global basis by 2050, which requires driving down the cost of electric vehicles to make EV ownership possible for the greatest number of customers," said Toshihiro Mibe, Honda president & CEO.  "Honda and GM will build on our successful technology collaboration to help achieve a dramatic expansion in the sales of electric vehicles."

In January, Honda announced it signed a joint development agreement with Massachusetts-based EV battery research and development company SES that will focus on the development of Lithium-Metal (Li-Metal) batteries for EVs.

SES was founded in 2012 as an MIT spinoff company. The company was formerly known as "SolidEnergy Systems".

SES is a global leader in the development and initial production of high-performance hybrid Li-Metal rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and other applications. 

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

GM's global EV platform is flexible enough to build a wide range of trucks, SUVs, crossovers, cars and commercial vehicles with outstanding design, performance, range and affordability, according to the company.

It will be interesting to see what the two automakers will bring to market in the coming years.


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