In a company strategy update released yesterday (24 February), the Japanese firm said production of petrol-battery hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric and fuel cell vehicles (FCV) woill begin to dwarf the amount of petrol-only vehicles it makes over the next 15 years.

Honda’s new chief executive Takahiro Hachigo cited poor company policies – such as long working hours and an emphasis on quantity and speed of production over quality – as key reasons for this ‘shake up’.

Speaking at a news conference at Honda’s headquarters in Tokyo, Hachigo said: “People working on production and development have been facing increased hours and workload because we pursued speed and scale that went beyond our capabilities. We want to focus our development resources for electrification.”

Plug-in hybrids will be ‘at the core’ of Honda’s electrification plan, with North American hybrids already scheduled for 2018, as the firm aims to up the percentage of its electric vehicle production from 5% to 65%.

As part of the plan, a number of Honda’s major models will be converted into plug-in versions on a similar platform to its Clarity FCV which was announced back in October.

Honda has also restructured its operations, introducing new personnel to ramp up its research and development (R&D) department. The updated department is aimed to put R&D and the centre of Honda’s vehicle production in a bid to improve the design, performance and sustainability of every vehicle it makes.

Industry revolution

Determined to make the best of a damaging situation, last year’s emissions scandal has seeminly paved the way for an increased focus on electrification in the automotive industry.

One of the main focal points at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was the concept of Longer-range electric vehicles. Audi, Chevrolet and Volkswagen were among a host of carmakers to reveal new prototypes.

Along with Honda, GM is also undergoing a department shake-up to allow for an easier transition into the EV era. Its Powertrain division has been re-branded as GM Global Propulsion Systems in a move that will see more than 4,000 employees solely dedicated to new-energy production.

The world’s best-selling electric car manufacturer, Nissan, has gone from producing EVs to introducing prototypes of ‘energy hub’ cars which will store and send back excess electricity to the grid.

With EVs slowly revealing themselves as a mainstream transportation method, green innovation powerhouses Tesla and Google have both announced plans to commercialise the infrastructure options available to consumers.

Matt Mace

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