Honda open to win-win global partnerships

Honda President & CEO Toshihiro Mibe with the Honda Prelude Concept at 2023 Japan Mobility Show

At a time, when its Japanese rivals – Toyota-Suzuki and Nissan-Mitsubishi – have joined hands with other global competitors to build scale and alternate fuel competencies, Honda Motor Company which has steered its fortune for the last decade on its own, has said it too is open to alliances across streams as long as it is a win-win solution for both the companies.

  1. Honda-General Motors partnership only for North American market
  2. Alliance to see joint development of the performance cars and driverless taxis
  3. CEO confirms Honda Elevate-based EV for India coming in the next three years

The company has so far partnered with General Motors for the North American market, but unlike the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance or the Toyota-Suzuki one – who are leveraging each other’s vehicle architecture and product distribution to build portfolio and scale – Honda has a less capital-based and more of a strategic partnership.

Honda Motor President and CEO Toshihiro Mibe told select Indian journalists on the sidelines of Japan Mobility show, "With GM we do not have any capital partnership but we do have an alliance. As long as we can find a win-win situation for both of us, I think there will be a possibility for various kinds of alliances going forward, wherever we can find benefit. We have various kinds of discussions going on with GM to look for some beneficial engagement for both companies."

Although Honda announced the end of the affordable EV project with GM a few weeks back, it is going ahead with the performance cars with the US carmaker. Honda and GM have also formalised a driverless taxi joint venture (JV), which will be operational in early 2026 in Tokyo.

On fuel cells too, Honda has done research and established a JV company to produce fuel cells. “Next year we will be able to launch the car that carries the fuel cells that are produced by this company,” reminded the Honda Motor Company CEO.  

Honda Motor Company's light vehicles output in the last decade has increased by just half a million units, from 3.54 million to 4.07 million, while volumes for other rivals have also grown at a similar rate, or even may have declined. However, the combined scale with alliance partners has helped them deliver a bigger product portfolio and frequent model intervention with alternate fuel technologies.

Thanks to the global alliance of Toyota with Suzuki, the world's largest carmaker has been able to expand rapidly in the Indian market, with its volumes doubling in the last three years thanks to offering multiple rebadged Maruti cars at a lower price point that Toyota could manage by itself. In fact, the maker of the likes of the Innova and Camry is looking at adding new capacity.

Similarly, Nissan Motor Corporation has leveraged its global partnership with Renault and Mitsubishi to share vehicle architectures not only for Japan, but key global markets of India, Latin America and other parts of the world. Renault-Nissan announced a USD 660 million (approx. Rs 5,500 crore) investment in India to introduce new platforms.

Honda Cars India, on the other hand, will be going solo in its vision to launch five SUVs by the end of the decade including an EV. On the importance of the Indian market, Mibe said, it is a big market, a market where the use of EVs, electrification is rapidly progressing (for cars and motorcycles). Elaborating on India game plan, Toshio Kuwuhara, President and CEO, Asian Honda Motor and Head of Regional Unit (Asia and Oceania) reaffirmed its commitment to India and said the company plans to launch a battery EV within the next few years in India. 

“As I have mentioned before, our target is to launch a battery EV within the next 3 years. So naturally, there will be some amount of investment for that, and our plan is to keep progressing and pushing forward our electrification. By the way, just to share about the size of the Indian market right now, of the total sales in terms of the number of units sold, India is number seven in the world. So along with that growth of the market itself, we will be making necessary judgement, because we know that the growth is happening right there,” assured Kuwuhara.

Also see:

Honda Cars India plant to commence EV retooling in 2024

Honda Prelude name revived for future sportscar concept

Honda Sustaina C, Prelude Concepts first look video

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