Honda ACE project to spearhead Elevate-based global EV SUV

Honda EV for India

Honda Cars India, which has made exports a key strategic pillar for the future growth strategy for its internal combustion engine (ICE) SUVs, will transition into a hub for electric vehicles with its new project ‘ACE’. Sources say that ACE – which stands for ‘Asian Compact Electric’ – will be ready by 2026 and almost 50-70 percent of the vehicles produced in India will be exported to key overseas markets, including Japan.

  1. Honda Elevate-based EV part of project ‘ACE’
  2. New derived EV SUV part of 5 new Hondas expected by 2030
  3. India to be export hub for new Honda EVs

Honda Elevate-based EV: fresh details

According to several people in the know, a product with a codename DG9D, which has a potential annual volume of 1 lakh units, is being discussed at the present as part of a number of new models for the future being planned for the Indian market. In an email response, a Honda Cars India spokesperson said,” As a policy we cannot comment on any future product and its business strategy due to confidentiality. “

At the launch of all new Elevate – Honda announced that it had plans to have a portfolio of five SUVs in the country by 2030, and it intends to use India as an export hub for the future. At that time, the company had also announced that its first EV, based on the Elevate platform, would arrive in two-three years. Like the Hyundai Creta EV – one of its rivals in the bourgeoning midsize EV SUV segment – the Elevate-based EV will be an ICE-converted derived EV.

On the sidelines of the 2023 Japan Mobility Show, Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) senior management had confirmed to Autocar India that the retooling of its plant in Tapukara, Rajasthan for EV production will commence in 2024 itself. With the volumes expected from exports the company may look at additional investment in the country including capacity.

The plant currently still has available capacity, and hence, it can accommodate a new model line, but Honda Cars India president and CEO Takuya Tsumura had confirmed that an increase in capacity is definitely on the cards. Going back to a second plant isn't ruled out either, but if at all, that would be much further down the line and based on volumes achieved.

While Honda hasn't announced a specific amount, it has confirmed that an additional investment has been earmarked for this new EV and future EVs. “As we've mentioned before, we are going to launch a BEV within the next three years, so naturally there will be some amount of investment for that,” Tsumura said, adding: “And our plan is to keep pushing forward our electrification.”

Made in India Honda EVs for export

This increase in production capacity is not only to serve domestic sales but also exports of the Elevate (which have yet to begin) and the EV, after it goes into production. In fact, like the Elevate, the EV is expected to be a global model that will be exported to many more markets than the City and Amaze are. To underscore the importance of role of India in the global scheme of things at the global premier of Elevate SUV, Toshio Kuwahara, President and CEO, Asian Honda Motor and Head of Regional Unit (Asia and Oceania), Honda Motor Company had said, he is expecting that Elevate will contribute to further expansion of exports volumes from India.

“India is one of the key global hubs for exports for Honda in the future and India is one of the most important automotive markets for the Honda brand’s future. That is why the global premiere of the new premium SUV Elevate is staged in the Indian market,” Kuwuhara had said in June.

Our sister publication Autocar Professional had reported in December that Honda’s exports from India are likely to double by 2025 and with the addition of the ACE project – the share of overseas volumes from India could move to about 30-40 percent of the total output.

A Honda Cars India spokesperson had confirmed that after its debut in India in 2023, the Honda Elevate is scheduled for a spring 2024 launch in Japan under the brand name WR-V. “In a first for HCIL, the model will be manufactured in India and exported to Japan. This strategic move is a strong reflection of manufacturing capabilities of India operations and also solidifies our vision of making the country a key export hub in Honda business. We are sorry, we cannot make a comment on the export volume as of now,” added the spokesperson.

Also see:

Midsize SUV comparison: Honda Elevate vs rivals

Honda City, City e:HEV, Amaze get up to Rs 1 lakh in discounts

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