A black 2024 Honda Prologue Elite is shown being charged near a Honda dealer.

Honda Ditches GM and Forges a New Path in EV Segment

While other brands barreled headlong into the emerging EV market, Honda took a decidedly more measured approach. In fact, the Japanese automaker released its first high-volume EV for the North American market when the 2024 Prologue SUV hit your local Honda dealer earlier this year. Produced in collaboration with General Motors, the Prologue was supposed to be the start of a fruitful partnership between the two brands that, less than two years after its announcement, has already been called off.

However, the end of the Honda/GM partnership certainly doesn’t mean that the Japanese automaker is abandoning its EV dreams. Honda recently announced an ambitious plan to introduce seven new all-electric models by 2030, including three vehicles that could hit the road as soon as 2026. It’s all part of Honda’s $65 billion investment in electrification that will allow the brand to transition to an all-EV and FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) lineup by 2040.

The automaker also has a few remaining alternative fuel models slated to debut later this year, including a Civic Hybrid and two other GM collaborations: the Acura ZDX and a fuel-cell version of the Honda CR-V. With so much news to catch up on, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a look at Honda’s EV journey, do a quick postmortem on the failed GM partnership, and see what the future holds for one of the industry’s most reliable and forward-thinking brands.

The Honda/GM Break-Up

To understand Honda’s future EV plans, it’s important to take a look at some of the company’s recent moves. The Japanese brand had been engaged in a joint effort with American auto giant GM to develop a new line of affordable EVs priced at around $30,000 and set to include next-gen features such as solid-state batteries. Based on GM’s Ultium battery technology, these EVs were conceived as a way to improve access to the supposedly burgeoning EV market. However, the plan was scrapped just 18 months in amid weakening market demand, escalating costs, and consumer anxiety around the current state of EV charging infrastructure.

Honda was less invested in the segment than many, but EV sales have still fallen well below expectations, with all-electric vehicles currently accounting for just 0.5 percent of Honda’s global sales. Bringing a line of sub-$30,000 EVs to the market was always an enterprising goal, and in the end, the two companies simply couldn’t get the numbers to work. “After studying this for a year, we decided that this would be difficult as a business,” said Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe.

GM had already revised some of its EV targets amid strike-related production delays and postponed opening a Michigan-based EV truck plant until late 2025. GM will continue to build Honda’s current lone North American EV offering for the 2024 model year, but while the two are still working together on hydrogen fuel cells and autonomous vehicles, it’s difficult to forecast the likelihood of continued collaboration in such a rapidly changing market.

Once seen as the wave of the future, slowing EV sales have led many automakers to reassess their own electrification plans. The EV share of total new-vehicle sales decreased by 15.2 percent between Q4 2023 and Q1 2024, representing the first downturn since mid-2020. It’s a sobering statistic for brands that had put all their eggs in the EV basket, but Honda, like fellow Japanese brand Toyota, has emerged relatively unscathed due to its comparatively low investment in the segment.

That’s not to say Honda is abandoning its EV plans. The company’s $65 billion investment in electrification and upcoming 0 Series models are encouraging signs, as is a recent excerpt from the automaker’s 2024 briefing on electrification initiatives and investment strategy. “Honda has not changed its belief that EVs are the most effective solution in the area of small mobility products such as motorcycles and automobiles. Looking at the trend from a longer-term perspective, Honda is confident that the EV shift will continue to proceed steadily. Without getting too caught up in the current changes in the situation, Honda must look ahead to the period of EV popularization, which will begin in the second half of the 2020s, and build a strong EV brand and a strong EV business from a medium- to long-term perspective.”

A blue 2024 Acura ZDX is shown driving on a highway.

Honda’s Remaining GM Collaborations

What does Honda’s forthcoming EV lineup look like? At this point, it seems that the rollout will likely come in two phases. The first wave will consist of the Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX SUVs, which are remnants of Honda’s GM partnership. Based on GM’s Ultium EV architecture, both SUVs boast a range of roughly 300 miles and will be priced around $50,000 for the Prologue and $70,000 for the ZDX. These models share their underpinnings with the Chevy Blazer EV and Cadillac LYRIQ but have Honda-designed exteriors.

Honda is also giving its best-selling CR-V a full alternative fuel makeover with the debut of a fuel-cell electric version of the popular compact crossover. Honda already introduced a hybrid version of the CR-V in 2020, but this new hydrogen-powered version––also a GM collab––promises some significant improvements over previous FCEV offerings, especially when it comes to the price. Honda estimates the CR-V’s fuel cell system will cost a third of the brand’s discontinued Clarity FCEV, but there is one catch.

Given the lack of widespread FCEV refueling infrastructure, the new CR-V will be largely impractical outside of the urban California market. However, Honda plans to include a plug-in feature that will allow drivers to charge their batteries at a standard EV charging station. Finally, there’s the Civic. Honda’s fan-favorite sedan has seen some mild electrification for 2025 as Honda introduces a new hybrid version of its third-best-selling model. Available as both a sedan and a hatchback, Honda predicts the hybrid model will come to represent 40 percent of Civic sales by the end of the year.

The New Series Starts at Zero

But Honda’s EV dreams stretch well past the 2025 model year. The next stage of EV development will be centered around the new Honda 0 Series, a full slate of seven all-new, all-electric models slated to roll out between 2026 and 2030. Honda has already given us a sneak peek in the form of two concept models, though only one looks to have firmly cemented its place in the forthcoming lineup. That would be a sleek, futuristic EV with the proportions of a station wagon that’s been dubbed the 0 Series Saloon Concept. The Saloon’s low-profile, wedge-like shape prioritizes aerodynamics, and while we’re used to seeing automakers abandon such bold, conceptual designs when it comes time to enter production, Honda has indicated that the consumer-grade model will be “very similar” to the concept.

With seating for four or five passengers, a steer-by-wire system, and a mysterious posture control feature that Honda says is an extension of its motion-based management system developed for robotics, the Saloon isn’t just a battery-powered vehicle; it’s a showcase for a litany of cutting-edge tech that the brand hopes will serve to illustrate the “joy of driving” in the modern EV era. This is even true of the Saloon’s platform, which Honda says is sleeker and lighter than current EV offerings with a featherweight frame and all-new power unit designed to maximize efficiency. The power unit is informed by Honda’s experience on the F1 circuit and will weigh up to 220 lbs less than the systems found in the company’s initial EV models.

“The low height, sporty styling that sets the Saloon apart from other EVs at first glance realizes both a fascinating design and an interior space that is more spacious than people can imagine based on the exterior appearance,” reads a recent press release from Honda. “Moreover, the instrument panel features a human-machine interface that enables simple and intuitive operations, realizing a sophisticated and seamless user interface.”

The other 0 Series Concept model comes in the form of the Space-Hub, a roomy, van-inspired vehicle with seating for six or seven passengers. Based on Honda’s new “Thin, Light, and Wise” design ethos, the Space-Hub puts the emphasis on flexibility with a reconfigurable cabin that’s crafted with the goals of “augmenting people’s daily lives” and encouraging interactions amongst passengers. While the Space-Hub hasn’t been confirmed as one of the seven forthcoming 0 Series models, we do know that the Saloon will be joined by a midsize SUV and an entry-level SUV for 2026. Honda will roll out a large, three-row SUV for 2027, a compact SUV for 2028, and wrap up the initial 0 Series line with a small SUV for 2029 and a compact sedan in 2030.

A blue Honda Saloon is shown driving through a tunnel.

Controlling Its Own Future

The forthcoming 0 Series is just one aspect of Honda’s $65 billion investment in electrification. These funds will be used to significantly expand the brand’s EV production capabilities, including a $700 million investment that will see Honda’s Ohio plants retooled into a new EV hub. The Ohio hub will serve as the command center for Honda’s North American EV operations but will be supplemented with an $11 billion investment in Alliston, Ontario, that will be focused on both vehicle and battery production.

The Ohio plant could be up and running as soon as late 2025, while the Ontario facilities will likely need until 2028 to begin production in earnest. When they are operational, the Alliston plants should be able to produce almost a quarter-million EVs per year, but it’s the battery plant’s output that’s the real headline. Part of a $4.4 billion partnership with LG Energy Solutions, Honda’s EV battery plant is expected to churn out 40 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery capacity each year. This vertically integrated approach should allow Honda to reduce the cost of its batteries by as much as 20 percent and overall EV production costs by 35 percent by bringing everything in-house, which are two crucial factors when it comes to EV affordability.

Preparing for the Long Term

If all goes according to plan, Honda expects to achieve a five percent profit margin on all EVs by 2030. The automaker has also set a target of selling two million EVs annually by the end of the decade, moving to a 100-percent zero-emission lineup by 2040 and going fully carbon-neutral by 2050. While these are certainly some ambitious numbers, they could well set the brand up for long-term success in the segment.

Honda will also embrace a bold new look as it steers into the future, replacing its 43-year-old logo with a new design intended to celebrate the brand’s new EV focus. The logo retains the familiar capital “H” but widens the letter towards the top to resemble two outstretched hands. Debuting on the new 0 Series models, Honda says the logo honors the company’s commitment to “augment the possibilities of mobility and sincerely serve the needs of the users of Honda EVs.” While a new, modern logo is sure to serve as a visual cue of Honda’s investment in the EV segment, we’ll have to wait until the Saloon and other 0 Series models hit the market to see if the company can follow through on this commitment.