Sunday, July 14, 2024
Cars

2024 future product report: Honda


This report follows the recent one on Acura, exploring global rollout timings of key upcoming Honda vehicles.

Emboldened by a record profit for fiscal 2023-24 and predicting an even better number in FY24-25, Honda Motor is forging ahead with plans for major new generation models in all its regions.

Zero Series

If the intention was to grab the attention of the media and public alike, then Honda succeeded as it presented the Saloon (pictured), a concept, in January. Take away the wing-like doors, tone down the dust-buster front end a little and here is the first model for what will be called the 0 Series.

Production of the long, low-roof electric car is due to start in 2026. That will be quite the statement when it arrives in dealerships, North America and China being the intended main markets. By 2030, there will be seven 0 Series vehicles worldwide, according to company CEO Toshihiro Mibe. Some we know about, 4.3 and 4.7 m long SUVs being due in 2026 along with the sedan. A large, seven-seat SUV joins these in 2027 with a third SUV – likely to be around the 4.5 m mark – to be added in 2028.

Honda, like Toyota and Nissan, is being hit hard in China as domestic brands led by BYD but also Chery, Geely Group and Changan surge. Much of the reason is an ongoing welter of affordably-priced so-called New Energy (EV & PHEV) cars and SUVs. Honda’s response, a publicly stated commitment to offer ten EVs by 2027 though many of these will be twinned vehicles for the GAC-Honda and Dongfeng-Honda joint ventures.

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Despite the recent dip after some stellar years with the Civic, Accord and CR-V, the brand remains a strong one in China. Of course the same applies in both Japan and the USA, even if the model mix could not be more different in the latter two markets.

The brilliance of this company is making sure it keeps products fresh, anticipating shifting consumer preferences and always offering appealing vehicles with baked-in solid margins. So it is that while more EVs are coming, there is for example a large line-up of highly-profitable hybrids already here. Competitors would also do well to more closely study how quickly Honda Motor learns from its (rare) mistakes.

Kei segment

The N-Box continues to be a phenomenon, selling in huge volume for Honda in the home market. So much so that it was a shock to see it dislodged from the overall number one slot (by the Suzuki Spacia) in May. Still, the tiny hatchback remains well ahead of every other vehicle with 83,877 registrations for the year to the end of May. The older N-One and N-Wagon also still sell well but to a far lesser degree.

Honda only launched the latest generation N-Box, along with its sporty N-Box Custom derivative, in October 2023 so we won’t see a replacement until the fourth quarter of 2027 after a facelift in 2025.

Later in the 2020s, we might well see another small EV to join the recently launched N-Van e, that being a car based on the Sustaina-C, which had its world debut at the 2023 Tokyo motor show. This bright red concept was meant to evoke the original Honda City from the 1980s. Will it also be joined by an even smaller electric model in the style of the Citroen Ami? That may well have been the message conveyed by the CI-MEV, a second electric design study which premiered at the same event.

Cars

Badged Fit, Life or Jazz in various countries, the fourth generation of this B segment /sub-compact hatchback should soon be facelifted. That update will be the only one between 2024 and 2027, which is when the future Fit arrives. A hybrid powertrain will again be the main propulsion system in many markets but electric power will surely also feature.

With every generation the Civic and Accord become ever larger, each model being especially successful in both the USA and China. There are however major differences with each car being leveraged across partner joint ventures in the PRC.

Civic generation eleven arrived one year ahead of the current Accord and its production life should follow the same cadence. Which means the twelfth evolution is due in 2027/2028 (the current sedan and hatchback have just been facelifted). We should also expect an electric option with the next model.

Launched in 2023, the eleventh generation Accord should be facelifted in 2026 and replaced in 2029. The architecture is expected to be new and while not EV-native, an Accord e will surely be available in each of the car’s two main regional markets.

Pick-up

One of the more unusual models in the global line-up is the Ridgeline, now two generations and seven years into what should be a decade-long manufacturing cycle. Unlike most pick-ups, this one has a monocoque construction, as should its generation three replacement. Due in 2027 or 2028, that vehicle will have a lot of components in common with the next Pilot SUV.

MPVs / Minivans

Honda has been quietly embracing its many overseas manufacturing operations for certain models which had once been built in and for the home market. One of the latest examples is the Odyssey, now an import to Japan from a GAC JV in China. Facelifted at the end of 2023, its replacement will surely also come from the PRC, that model being due in 2026.

A different Odyssey, this one being built in and for North America, is due to go to a sixth generation for the 2025 model year. This large minivan will have the same front- and all-wheel drive architecture as next year’s replacement for the Passport, an SUV which is specific to the same region.

Coupes

There was a surprise last year in the form of a concept which appeared to propose a revival for the Prelude. This coupe was built over many generations commencing in the late 1970s. The final one went out of production more than two decades ago. Once very popular in the USA, the potential generation six should be a hybrid, the launch being anticipated for late 2026 or early 2027.

SUVs

The ever-popular Vezel has only recently had a mid-cycle freshening (in Japan), equivalent updates for this C segment/Compact SUV subsequently being rolled out worldwide throughout 2024. Marketed with various names – HR-V, ZR-V, XR-V, as well as e:NP1, e:NS1 and e:nY1 in electric form – the model is scheduled to go to a fourth generation commencing in 2028.

As successful as its Toyota RAV4 rival, the larger CR-V – also called Breeze in China – only seems to become ever more popular with every new generation. The present model series will have a facelift in 2025 (2026 in some markets), generation seven then being expected from 2029/2030. As always, the platform will be shared with the next Civic.

A little longer than the CR-V and for the moment at least, China-specific, the newly launched GAC Honda e:NP2 and Dongfeng Honda e:NS2 are more or less the same electric crossover. Each has a 150 kW motor and 68.8 kWh battery, their shared platform being Honda’s e:N Architecture F.

Although their once ambitious JV for electric models has since been scaled back, the various planned products of an alliance between Honda and General Motors continue to arrive. New for the 2024 model year in North America, the Prologue is a 4.9 m long electric SUV manufactured by GM and expected to have a six- to seven-year lifecycle. That should mean a Honda-developed successor can be anticipated for 2030/2031.

Larger than the Prologue, American Honda’s biggest model is the (5.1 m long) Pilot. New for the 2023 model year in its present generation, there should be a styling refresh in CY2025 and a successor in 2029. There will probably be an electric option 12-24 months after the debut of the gasoline-powered Pilot, that model also replacing the Prologue.




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