In a surprise announcement, Honda and GM announced on June 7 that they are joining forces to create next generation batteries for electric vehicles. Here’s the opening paragraph of the joint press release as reported by Inside EVs.
“General Motors and Honda announced an agreement for new advanced chemistry battery components, including the cell and module, to accelerate both companies’ plans for all-electric vehicles. The next-generation battery will deliver higher energy density, smaller packaging and faster charging capabilities for both companies’ future products, mainly for the North American market. (emphasis added)
“Under the agreement, the companies will collaborate based on GM’s next generation battery system with the intent for Honda to source the battery modules from GM. The collaboration will support each company’s respective and distinct vehicles. The combined scale and global manufacturing efficiencies will ultimately provide greater value to customers.”
GM executive vice president Mark Reuss says, “This new, multi-year agreement with Honda further demonstrates General Motors’ capability to innovate toward a profitable electric portfolio. GM’s decades of electrification experience and strategic EV investments, alongside Honda’s commitment to advancing mobility, will result in better solutions for our customers and progress on our zero emissions vision.”
The agreement deepens the bond between Honda and GM. In January, 2017, the two companies agreed to share research and development programs for hydrogen fuel cell technology. That project is taking place at GM’s battery pack assembly plant in Brownstown township 20 miles southwest of Detroit. “In addition to our ongoing joint development and production of fuel cells, this battery component collaboration will enable us to take a new step toward the realization of a sustainable society,” said Takashi Sekiguchi, senior board member at Honda.
The part of the announcement that refers specifically to the North American market is intriguing. GM seemed to be stepping boldly into the electric car future with the Chevy Volt 5 years ago. Then the Chevy Bolt came along a few years later, but neither has been setting the world on fire when it comes to sales, despite the fact that both are quite competent automobiles. Lately, GM seems to have turned its attention to the burgeoning Chinese market.
But The General’s lines of communication between Detroit and Beijing work in both directions. The one thing the world is crazy for is SUVs. An electric SUV with decent range could be a home run for General Motors at a time when Jaguar is introducing its electric I-Pace and Porsche has an SUV version of the Mission E waiting in the wings.
Last year, GM showed off its sizzling FNR-X electric SUV concept at a trade show in China. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that car with 200+ miles of range becoming a hot property in the North American market. Is that something GM might have in mind when it gets its next generation batteries perfected and into production? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.
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