Honda Motor president & CEO Takahiro Hachigo has announced a new modular product development strategy and a new unit to control product costs during a wide-ranging press briefing in Japan today to discuss the automaker’s future direction, including various products and technologies and the company’s new 2030 vision.
“We are currently moving forward with a project that will significantly advance Honda’s development system and capability,” Hachigo said.
“The special merit of [our] automobile development is our ‘SED development system’ where teams from development (R&D), production and sales work as one and form a project team to pursue product development. We will further advance this development system and introduce a new development process for making automobiles which will enable us to more efficiently create both products and services that appeal to people’s emotions.
“As the first step of this initiative, we created a new planning division within R&D called the product and perceived quality planning division in October of last year. This is a planning team that ensures that our products feature ‘perceived quality’ which is not easy to quantify.
“In order to ensure that all of our automobile models consistently offer such ‘perceived value’ to our customers, we are currently considering the introduction of modular strategies which include the sharing of parts and units.
“We will establish an automobile cost planning division that will be in charge of comprehensive cost reduction by working closely among the divisions of R & D, purchasing, and production in addition to strengthening our capability in the area of cost planning.
“Through those activities, we will aim for creating attractive automobiles and achieving comprehensive cost reduction by making both developing and producing new automobiles more efficient.
“We will begin applying these initiatives starting from automobiles scheduled to go on sale in 2019.”
New design direction
Hachigo said Honda would launch its new design direction “at an auto show this fall”.
Technologies to realise further evolved “driving experience that performs at the will of the driver” are currently under development.
He said Honda had been working to establish a flexible production system and mutually complementary production among six regions and has begun to see positive results.
In North America, in order to accommodate the recent increase in demand for SUVs, the automaker is in the process of establishing a production system to handle the production of light truck models such as the Honda CR-V and Pilot and the Acura MDX more flexibly.
Civic hatchback supply from the UK to North America has begun and export to Japan is being planned.
The WR-V, a regional model developed mainly in Brazil, is now being produced and sold in India as well.
“We are facilitating inter-regional coordination to evolve our models more efficiently,” Hachigo said.
Honda wants to electrify two-thirds of its global automobile unit sales in 2030 and is focusing on hybrid based models utilising a high efficiency plug-in system claimed unique to Honda.
It will strengthen the development of electric vehicles (battery EV) in addition to fuel cell vehicles (FCV).
A China-exclusive BEV model is scheduled to go on sale in 2018 while a dedicated EV model for other regions is also currently under development. It will be introduced “at an auto show this fall”.
In October last year, Honda R&D established an electric vehicle development division where a specialised team will be in charge of developing the entire vehicle including the powertrain and body.
Honda plans to increase the number of vehicles with sensing technologies. In Japan, starting with the redesigned N-Box it will make sensing standard for all new models including mini-vehicles.
“We will expand application of Honda Sensing for all-new models in other regions as well, including North America, China, and Europe,” Hachigo said.
“We are going to realise automated driving technologies for use on highways in 2020. And then, we will make them usable in a broader area including regular roads.
“As for automated driving on highways, we are striving to realise an automated lane changing function which enables the vehicle to drive in multiple lanes without any command from the driver. And we also are going to realise an automated driving function which will free the driver from the need to monitor their surroundings while the vehicle is experiencing traffic congestion. Moreover, we will strive to achieve the technological establishment of level 4 automated driving for personal car use by around 2025.”
Hachigo said: “For Honda to continue to be a company society wants to exist even in the year 2050, when [we] will be more than 100 years old, we envisioned what we want to look like in such a future. And based on that, we determined what we want to look like in the year 2030, and we summarised that as our 2030 vision.
“We will bring the universal passion of Honda to ‘serve people worldwide with the joy of expanding their life’s potential’. And toward this end, we will ‘lead the advancement of mobility and enable people everywhere in the world to improve their daily lives’. This is our 2030 vision statement.”
“We will focus on three areas, namely mobility, robotics, with a focus on AI, and energy solutions in order to provide people with the joy and freedom of mobility and the joy of making their lives better.
“We will strive to further expand the joy of people by offering products and services that are optimised based on Honda’s desire to ‘utilize technology to help people, while putting people at the core’.
“Striving to become No. 1 in the areas of the environment and safety, we will invest more resources in these areas. And we will strive to become a company that leads the effort to realise a carbon-free and collision-free society.
He said Honda will further enhance inter-regional coordination and collaboration and increase the efficiency of operations from a global perspective. It will “grow our global models strong, so that they will be well-received anywhere in the world. As for regional models, with consideration of customers needs in each region, multiple regions with similar customer needs will work together to realise common regional models with a high level of product strength. Through this initiative, we will strive to achieve more efficient business operations in each region”.
“We will clarify what we should do on our own, and we will focus on that. At the same time, we will be proactive in engaging in open innovation with external partners.”