General Motors' electric-vehicle platform revealed last month will be the foundation for two future Honda electric vehicles, the automakers jointly announced Thursday.
That includes GM’s Ultium propulsion system that consists of battery packs ranging from 50 to 200 kwh, a motor family with three variants, and power systems to drive two or four wheels with up to 1,000 horsepower per vehicle.
For Honda, it means two electric vehicles that will be made at GM plants in North America and will go on sale for the U.S. and Canada starting in 2024—approximately two years after the expected arrival of GM's first crossover with the system, the Cadillac Lyriq, and nearly three years after the arrival of a GMC Hummer EV.
That fits right in with Honda's strategy to focus on hybrids in the U.S. for the first part of this decade. At a recent press launch for the Honda CR-V Hybrid, company spokespeople emphasized that there were EVs on the way to the U.S.
For GM, it means more production volume, and the chance that the company will reach economies of scale on its Ultium investments sooner. GM president Mark Reuss recently said that about 60% of the company's product development work is now toward EVs, versus 20% just a few years ago.
“This agreement builds on our proven relationship with Honda, and further validates the technical advancements and capabilities of our Ultium batteries and our all-new EV platform,” Doug Parks, GM’s executive VP for global product development, purchasing, and supply chain, said in a statement. He added that the partnership will allow “a profitable EV business through increased scale and capacity utilization.”
Likewise, Honda made clear that the arrangement was mutually beneficial. "As EV volume increases, both companies will be able to more rapidly achieve economies of scale, reduce cost and provide value for both our companies and our respective customers," said Jeffrey Smith, Honda North America VP for corporate communications.
GM's platform isn’t a skateboard configuration used by other electric-vehicle startups and automakers. Instead, it's a set of building blocks that serves as a modular architecture. Some of the same components can be used for cars and crossovers—many of them sharing the same unibody construction—as well as large body-on-frame SUVs and trucks.
Honda Sports EV concept, 2017 Tokyo Motor Show
The companies say that the vehicles will be developed together, but Honda will use “unique interior and exterior designs.” The models may also have different interfaces and different driving characteristics.
The companies also announced that Honda would adopt GM's driver-assistant features called Super Cruise, although Honda won't use the same name.
It's not the first time Honda and GM have teamed up for propulsion systems.
Honda and GM made a strategic alliance for hydrogen fuel-cell technology in 2013, and then in 2018 started working together on battery cell modules, combining forces for efficiencies of scale. It has also jointly invested in Cruise with the goal of a shared autonomous vehicle—the Cruise Origin, introduced in January.