Honda is transitioning away from fossil fuels. The Japanese auto giant recently announced plans to sell only battery-powered and fuel cell vehicles by 2040. It’s an ambitious goal, but one many carmakers have taken upon themselves lately.
In January, GM announced it hopes to sell only zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. Similarly, Volvo hopes to go all-electric by 2030. As emissions regulations and consumer pressure to go green rise, electric vehicles (EVs) have become a more attractive business model.
As one of the world’s leading carmakers, Honda could make quite a splash by going all-electric. EVs, whether battery- or fuel cell-powered, would become far more accessible than they are today.
Phasing Out Fossil Fuels
Honda is focusing on sales in North America before moving to the global market. It plans for EVs to make up 40% of its North American sales by 2030, then 80% by 2035. While the company didn’t announce its goals for the rest of the world, the global shift to EVs will likely come soon after.
To kickstart this ambitious plan, Honda will unveil two new EVs in 2024. The vehicles, one of which will release under the Acura name, will use GM’s Ultium battery platform. After that, Honda aims to use its own EV platform, including new solid-state battery technology.
Unlike many other automakers going all-electric, Honda is including fuel cell vehicles in its plans. Most others are following Tesla’s example in focusing on battery-powered EVs, most likely due to fuel cells’ expense and the lack of hydrogen infrastructure. The U.S. has more than 27,000 charging stations, and drivers can charge cars in their homes, but hydrogen pumps are rarer.
While Honda didn’t announce its specific plans for fuel cell vehicles, it’s not ready to write them off yet. The company could expect hydrogen infrastructure to increase in the future, or it may just want to provide multiple EV options. Either way, including fuel cell vehicles in its zero-emissions goals sets it apart.
Honda’s Electric History
Right now, Honda’s only EV in the U.S. is the fuel cell-powered Clarity, which is only available in California. In Japanese and European markets, the automaker sells a battery-powered car called the Honda E. Honda produced other battery EVs in the past, but now these two vehicles are its only electric options.
That isn’t to say that Honda hasn’t made an effort to go green. The company makes several hybrid models that emit much less than traditional engines while still producing emissions. One of its hybrids, the Insight, offers an impressive 47 miles per gallon, making it far more efficient than standard sedans.
While Honda is no stranger to batteries and fuel cells, it still relies on fossil fuels. That, along with its place as the world’s fifth-largest carmaker, makes this move to electric vehicles significant. This one company replacing its fossil fuel-powered cars with battery and fuel cell options represents a substantial decrease in emissions.
Automakers Have Set Their Sights on EVs
The automotive industry as a whole is starting to move away from gas and diesel. Whether powered by batteries or fuel cells, electric cars will replace traditional models before long, at least in new car sales. Honda’s recent announcement is just the latest instance of this sector-wide trend.
As more automakers exclusively produce EVs, more consumers will switch over, too. Fuel cell-powered and battery-powered vehicles will feature a wider variety of options and price ranges, attracting more buyers. Transportation will slowly become more and more sustainable.
Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment. co. Jane covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, green technology, renewable energy and more.