The recent spotlight on the future models plans of Acura now shifts to the namesake brand of the luxury division’s parent: Honda. There is also a look at Everus, the new electric vehicles brand for China.
It’s been a first-rate year for the Honda brand, with stand-out performances in Japan, the United States and especially China. In the last of these three, last month the H-logo make pulled ahead of Geely to become the country’s number two brand behind only the mighty VW (2,862,364). In November, its locally-built models’ deliveries total was 150,136 units and 1,304,152 over the first eleven months according to CAAM data.
Even though its ongoing rise continues to defy the national trend, Honda China still hasn’t quite pipped American Honda as the make’s number one national division. The USA remains the Japanese firm’s number one market, sales of Honda passenger vehicles reaching 1,352,572 between 1 January and 30 November. In just a few weeks’ time though, the data from both countries may show that the order changed. It’s going to be close though. The gap is now down to 48,420 in favour of the US and in November, 43,655 more Hondas were sold to Chinese customers than Americans.
As for Japan, Honda is a long way behind Toyota but its 693,439 year-to-date deliveries place it in a strengthening second place and well ahead of Suzuki, Daihatsu and Nissan.
Honda N Concept architecture mini-vehicles rule Japan’s largest vehicle segment and have done for some years now. Curiously, Honda is taking its time to replace the oldest of what has become a range of N-models: N-One, N-Box, N-Box Custom, N-Box Slash, N-WGN and N-WGN Custom. Replacements for many of these 660cc five-door hatchbacks should begin to appear very soon with the various new bodies to be rolled out over the course of 2019 and into 2020 and 2021.
Honda’s strategy of adding ever more Kei cars has worked brilliantly in that owners of the older ones are constantly being tempted by the newer arrivals, the most recently launched derivative being the second generation N-Box, which arrived in September 2017.
Honda isn’t a major player in the global A segment although it is strong in some Asian countries. The latest generation of the Amaze, a small sedan, was revealed at the New Delhi Auto Expo in February this year. It replaced the Brio in that market during May and in Indonesia from August. The Brio model name is also used in some countries. These cars are due to facelifted in 2021 and replaced by a model on a fresh platform from 2025.
The Fit, also known as the Jazz, is in the final stages of its life cycle, although some countries will continue selling the current shape model into 2020 and possibly even into 2021. The fourth generation of this small five-door hatchback is due to be revealed in Japan in the third quarter of 2019 though.
Honda of Canada Manufacturing was the lead global plant for the tenth generation Civic. This meant that Alliston in Ontario was the first plant to launch the current Civic into mass production. Further, HCM was responsible for developing the manufacturing processes and tooling trials that form the manufacturing base at all Honda plants globally that build the tenth generation Civic model series.
The sedan and coupe came first, followed by a five-door hatchback and then a five-door Type R. There is no wagon with this generation. The Civic was the first model for a new C and D segment platform.
HUM, Honda’s Swindon plant in England, would be the ‘global production hub’ for the then next five-door car it was announced in March 2015. This vastly underutilised facility lost the Jazz and the CR-V. Production of the Civic five-door commenced in August 2016, with the first cars being shipped to North America later that month. The sedan for European markets is made in Turkey.
American Honda announced its facelifted, 2019 model year sedan and coupe line-up in August. Regions outside North America will begin building/selling the restyled sedan and hatchback during 2019. Also next year, we should see a Civic Hybrid for the European market and probably a Civic PHEV for China.
The eleventh generation model will most likely be pioneered by HCM, the first series production sedans coming off the line at Alliston plant 1 in early 2022. The platform will be a tweaked version of the existing car’s. Honda Motor Europe will not offer the next generation model with a diesel: the division says it will accelerate the phasing out of such engines from its vehicles.
The tenth generation Accord sedan, announced to the media in July 2017, went on sale first in the US, Mexico and Canada two months later for those countries’ 2018 model year.
This car is sold globally, with the exception of Europe, Honda having withdrawn from that region’s D-sedan and wagon segment. The same basic architecture is shared with the smaller CR-V and Civic.
In North America at least, the Accord is available with turbocharged 192hp 1.5- and 252hp 2.0-litre gasoline engines as well six-speed manual, CVT and ten-speed automatic transmissions. A V6 is not offered, and the Accord Coupe, which made up just four per cent of the ninth generation car’s sales in North America, was not replaced. There was a new powertrain for the Accord Hybrid too.
American Honda will facelift the Accord for its 2021 model year and replace it in calendar 2022. Timings for China and other markets in Asia where the model is built and/or sold will differ slightly. The eleventh generation car will be based on the same architecture as the latest model.
The first of two models called Odyssey is older than American Honda’s Odyssey and is instead sold mainly in Asia. The big change over the fourth generation model was the introduction of sliding rear doors. The Japan-built Odyssey has been in production since 2013 with the Odyssey Hybrid added in February 2016, the same month that the rest of the range had a mid-life facelift. There was a second facelift in October 2017, timed to coincide with the Tokyo motor show.
The fifth generation Odyssey brought with it a new architecture: Ultra Low Floor (ULF). The vehicle’s standard engine was also new, a 2.4-litre i-VTEC direct injection four-cylinder petrol unit. Production in China was added from July 2014, with local market sales commencing one month later. No further changes are due, with the sixth generation model expected at the Tokyo motor show in eleven months’ time.
The larger Odyssey is American Honda’s only minivan. It (along with the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica) is one of four vehicles which dominate the US market for monocoque chassis large passenger vans. The current 2YM series model has been built in Alabama since 2017 so there won’t be any changes in the immediate future. A facelift is due for the 2021 model year. The sixth generation model isn’t scheduled to appear until 2023 for the 2024 model year.
American Honda is said to be looking hard at whether or not there could be a need for an Odyssey Hybrid. This would logically use the same powertrain as the Acura MDX Sport Hybrid.
The WR-V is for lower income countries. This Fit/Jazz-based small SUV was revealed at the Sao Paulo motor show in November 2016. It entered production in both Brazil and India during February 2017. A facelift should take place in 2020 with a new model, on a fresh platform, expected in 2024.
The Vezel, which is also sold as the HR-V and XR-V, is Honda’s most successful small SUV worldwide. The production model, badged as the Vezel and Vezel Hybrid, had its global debut at the Tokyo motor show in November 2013, and went on sale in Japan during the following month. The home market Vezel offers buyers the choice of a 1.5-litre petrol engine or else a 1.5-litre engine + one electric motor hybrid powertrain. The hybrid makes up the majority of Japanese market sales.
There are two models for China. The Vezel, manufactured by the Guangqi Honda joint venture, was the first to appear. This was announced at April 2014’s Beijing motor show. Four months later, Dongfeng Honda revealed a modified version, the Honda XR-V, at the Chengdu motor show. The Vezel went on sale in China in October 2014, with the XR-V following the next month.
A facelifted HR-V was announced by American Honda in June, new for the 2019 model year in North American countries. The update will reach other markets during 2019. The next generation model should then appear first in Japan towards the end of 2020.
The CR-V is on course to be American Honda’s number one model in 2018, overtaking the Civic. This 4.6m long SUV is now two years old, although only in the USA. Examples of the model for Japan and European countries were only released in 2018 so sales momentum is still building in these markets. The CR-V Hybrid is also about to be added to the line-up in Europe but it has been in production at one of Dongfeng Honda’s Chinese plants since 2017.
American Honda should facelift the CR-V for the 2020 model year and launch the sixth generation model in 2022. The architecture will be evolved from that of the current model’s.
In China, there are two SUVs which sit above the CR-V. The 4.8m long Avancier (Chinese name: Guandao), built by Guangqi Honda, went on sale in November 2016. Its twin is Dongfeng Honda’s UR-V. Both were powered by a standard turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine at launch but a 1.5-litre turbo was added from March 2017. The UR-V went on sale in March 2017. Facelifted models are due in dealerships in 2020 and next generation models in 2024.
The Passport (pictured) is new for North America’s 2019 model year and will be in dealerships from January. This SUV shares the GLTP2 architecture with the larger Pilot and is built in the same factory. The only engine is a 280hp 3.5-litre V6 linked to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. There are both front- and all-wheel drive variants. Its model life should be just short of six years with a facelift in 2021.
The Pilot, American Honda’s largest SUV, has up to eight seats. The latest model, new for North America’s 2016 model year, uses the platform that was introduced by the third generation Acura MDX in mid-2013.
Front- and all-wheel drive variants are offered, with a 280hp 3.5-litre V6 engine standard for all. The Pilot went on sale in North American markets in July 2015. Exports to South Korea commenced in December 2016. There were only minor changes for the 2018 model year but a facelift for 2019. The next Pilot is due out in 2022.
Honda’s only pick-up is the US-made Ridgeline. It is unusual for having a monocoque construction rather than the usual body-on-frame design. Launched in mid-2016, it is due for a facelift in 2020 in addition to some mechanical changes (e.g. a ten-speed gearbox). The replacement is due in 2023.
EVs (including FCEVs)
Aside from sales of the Tesla Model 3 in the US, electric vehicles remain a tiny niche at a worldwide level. Honda is hoping that it might have more luck than so many other makes when it launches the production version of an EV prototype next year. The little ‘Urban EV‘ drew much positive praise for its cute styling when revealed at the Frankfurt IAA in September 2017 so it is hoped that the car looks as similar as possible to the concept.
This model will become available in Japan during 2020, Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo told the media at the Tokyo motor show in October 2017. It will also be manufactured in the company’s home market, Hachigo-san added. At this year’s Geneva motor show, Honda Motor Europe’s SVP Phil Ross stated that the Urban EV will be available to order in the region from early 2019 with deliveries due at the end of the year.
Honda is expected to source motors for this and other future EVs from a JV which was established with Hitachi Automotive Systems. This follows the July 2017 announcement that the firms are collaborating in the development, manufacture and sales of motors for electric vehicles on the premises of Hitachi Automotive Systems in Hitachinaka-shi, Ibaraki Prefecture.
As for Honda’s continuing work on electric vehicles powered by a hydrogen, the Clarity Fuel Cell remains the firm’s only such model. The big hatchback has been available to lease in a small number of countries in Europe as well as in Japan and certain US states since 2016.
The car’s platform would also be used for a future plug-in hybrid car, Honda announced in October 2015. This car, the Clarity PHEV, along with the Clarity Electric, had its public debut at the New York auto show in April 2017.
Speaking at the Japanese market sales launch of the Clarity in March 2016, Takahiro Hachigo told the media that he wanted to see tens of thousands of a future hydrogen powered Honda built annually. This would be part of the project to sell a car from 2020, the R&D of which is to be shared with General Motors. The fuel cell stack and hydrogen tanks are what the cars will have in common but the platforms, electric motors and battery packs will be bespoke to each OEM.
The follow-up to the Clarity Fuel Cell will likely be the first vehicle to receive the stacks which GM and Honda announced in January 2017 would be made at a plant in Michigan from 2020. Groupe PSA is also now part of this joint venture.
Everus – a new electric vehicles division for China
Aside from Honda and Acura, Honda Motor has one other brand: Everus. This has just been launched in China and is part of the Honda-GAC joint venture although the first model, an EV, was co-developed with Dongfeng Motor as well as with Guangzou Auto.
The Everus EV concept appeared at the Beijing motor show in April. This Vezel/HR-V-based plug-in crossover would go into production at a GAC Honda plant during the second half of this year, Honda stated when revealing the prototype at AutoChina. The model’s name is VE-1, with the production variant premiering at the Guangzhou motor show in November.
VE-1 production has recently commenced, just in time for the Chinese national government’s January deadline by which joint ventures which produce more than 30,000 vehicles per annum must also sell a mandated number of so-called ‘New Energy Vehicles’ (PHEVs and EVs) so as to qualify for credits. Such credits allow them to import and/or build vehicles powered by combustion engines. Which means that the VE-1 and any other future Everus brand electrified models will be low-volume models. Honda is clearly testing the water via a relatively low-cost method: in the absence of a market free of carrots and sticks, still no-one knows how low or high demand for EVs and PHEVs would be.
Recent reports for many other manufacturers’ future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.
Future product program intelligence
More detail on past, current and forthcoming models as well as additional Honda vehicles which are not in the feature above – including special models for China such as the future Envix – can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE.
The next manufacturer to be featured in the future models reports series will be Dongfeng Motor.