Honda CEO: electric vehicles are a 'core technology'

Takahiro Hachigo Says Fuel Cell Vehicle Is Just First In Line Of New EVs

View 17 Photos
The production version of Honda's hydrogen-powered FCEV concept remains on target for release in Japan by March 2016, and it's going to be followed by at least two more vehicles that have some form of electric powertrain. Probably more than two, but we can't be more specific than that. This is what we learned today from a speech by the new president and CEO of Honda Motor Company, Takahiro Hachigo.

Speaking about the two main themes he sees for the future of the automaker (the six-region global operation structure and "continuous development of challenging products unique to Honda"), Hachigo once again confirmed an on-sale date for the production version of the FCEV concept that Honda has been trotting out at auto shows for a few years now as happening, "before the end of the current fiscal year" which ends March 31, 2016.

He also said something broader about the company's vision for electric cars: "As the next-generation of mobility products, Honda will evolve products that use electricity as a core technology," he said. While we don't yet know what the electric vehicle products are, Hachigo's statements echo those of Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of American Honda, from when the FCEV concept was unveiled: "The Honda FCEV Concept not only sets our direction for our next generation fuel-cell vehicle in 2015, but for future improvements in electric drive technology." Honda previously promised new all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2018, and today's comments signal that that plan is still in place. Things may change though, since Honda's original release date for the FCEV was 2015.

Related Video:

Show full PR text
Summary of CEO Speech on July 6, 2015

TOKYO, Japan, July 6, 2015 - The new President & CEO of Honda Motor Co., Takahiro Hachigo, unveiled his future vision for the company. He highlighted two themes that the new "Team Honda" will pursue:

I want to create a new Honda under two themes.

< Two themes to be pursued for the new Honda >

1. Advancement of the six-region global operation structure
2. Continuous development of challenging products unique to Honda and delivering them to our customers around the world

Let me talk about my vision for the future of Honda which will be established as we pursue these themes. The key word is "Team Honda."

< Future of Honda – My thoughts based on personal experiences "at the spot">

Honda's strength is that team/project members share one goal and take on challenges and attain high targets. Honda's challenges have always been generated "at the spot." Let me share some of my experiences that proved these points to me.

1999 - As an Assistant Large Project Leader (development leader), I was involved in the development of the U.S. Odyssey, the first full-size minivan Honda introduced in North America, together with the startup of a new plant in Canada.

It was an important project that would forge the future of Honda business in North America. The team consisted of members who came from different areas of expertise and different countries working as one. This project established the foundation for Honda's future light truck production.

2011 - Shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I took office as the General Manager of the Suzuka Factory. We took on challenges to integrate development, production and purchasing for mini-vehicles. This project resulted in the establishment of SKI (Suzuka K Innovation), a division that promotes Honda's mini-vehicle business, which achieved the success of our N Series, with cumulative sales exceeding 1 million units.

2012 - I served as the Vice President of Honda Motor Europe Ltd. in the U.K. in the midst of an economic slump in Europe. Development, production and purchasing divisions were put together on the same floor at the production plant. Being developed after a series of discussions on that floor, the all-new Civic Type R became a model with a distinct presence even in Europe, the land of sports cars. An all-new Civic Type R is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in the fall of this year.

2013 - I served as the Representative of Development, Purchasing and Production at Honda Motor (China) Investment Co., Ltd. in China. A major change in how Honda does business with its joint venture partners in China was undertaken successfully. Now, the two joint venture companies (Guangqi Honda and Dongfeng Honda) make their own cars while sharing common platforms.

Through my experiences "at the spot," I learned how important it is for each and every associate to share a goal and work as one team. Honda demonstrates its strength when a team is formed that combines the personal qualities of each member. The important thing for such a team is opportunities where members can voice their own opinions and have in-depth discussions.

My role is to build a bottom-up environment where teams "at the spot" can take action based on their own initiatives. The goal of Team Honda is to have a strong bond with our customers through challenging products created by such teams "at the spot."

Now, let me talk about how we are going to pursue the two themes under this direction.

1. Advancement of the six-region global operations structure

Existing six-region global operations structure

Honda employs a unique matrix management structure. Under this structure, each region has built up their own production capacity and established sales, development and purchasing functions, which has made it possible for each region to develop exclusive models for their region.

As the next step, we will utilize regional production capacity for our global operations as a whole. Operational functions of the global headquarters will be enhanced to strongly promote mutually complementary inter-regional relationships. Production allocation will be optimized while leveraging Honda's flexible production system.

Examples of a mutually complementary relationship in the area of automobile production include the supply of some North American Fit and European Jazz models that will come from Japan, the next generation of Civic 5-door which will be supplied from Europe to other regions and the next generation of CR-V which will be supplied from Canada to Europe.

In Nigeria, Honda will begin local production of the Honda Accord this month (with planned annual production capacity of 1,000 units). This is first time for Honda to assemble automobiles in Africa.

2. Continuous development of challenging products unique to Honda and delivering them to our customers around the world.

In order to realize products that provide our customers with inspiring innovations and joys using unprecedented technologies, it is important for the team to work as one and think deeply.

S660 was created by a team that was newly-formed after a young associate proposed the ideal sports car he wanted to build.

This year, after pursuing a dream for nearly 30 years to take personal mobility to the skies through aircraft research, Honda will begin customer delivery of the HF120 jet engine and the HondaJet light business jet aircraft.

We will continue to be firmly committed to the creation of "challenging products" unique to Honda.

In the area of automobile products, the next-generation Civic will be equipped with a new platform and downsized turbo engine.

Core global Honda models CR-V and Accord will undergo full model changes in the future to make them more attractive vehicles that feature more new technologies, higher competitiveness and innovative designs.

We will strive to begin sales in Japan of the next-generation successor to FCX Clarity before the end of the current fiscal year (ending March 31, 2016). As the next-generation of mobility products, Honda will evolve products that use electricity as a core technology.

In the area of motorcycles, the CRF1000L, a dual-purpose model which is scheduled to be introduced to European markets at the end of 2015 and then in Japan and North America, will enable customers to experience a product unique only to Honda.

In the area of power products, Honda has been continuing its research and development of a Walking Assist Device which supports walking for people with weakened leg strength. Honda is striving to commercialize this product in Japan before the end of this year.

< Closing >

In order to continue using unprecedented technologies to deliver inspiring innovations and joys to our customers, Honda will be fully committed to product development in all business areas – motorcycles, automobiles, and power products.

There may be some occasions where teams need to take more time "at the spot" to make the best product. I will support associates at the spot in our manufacturing operations by ensuring they get the time they need.

Our priority is to pursue the art of manufacturing that leads to the joy of our customers

I believe in Honda's people, technological strengths and potential. My job is to establish a system that connects the strengths we derive from the challenging spirit of each and every one of the 200,000 Honda associates around the world to the dreams of our customers.

What drives me forward with my fellow Honda associates is The Power of Dreams.

Driven by The Power of Dreams, Team Honda will keep moving forward with the goal to share joys with customers all around the world.

Share This Photo X