The Honda Prologue EV will mark the beginning of a new era at Honda, especially in the U.S. and Canada, for which it has already announced some specific information. Here are seven things you need to know about the new Honda electric SUV:
Not the first Honda electric SUV
You read it right. The Honda Prologue EV isn’t the first mass-market Honda electric SUV. The company has already developed electric SUVs derived from the Honda HR-V, called VE-1, X-NV, and the GAC-Honda M-NV, but offers them only in China (through its local JV partners). Then there are the recently unveiled Honda e:NS1 and Honda e:NP1 twins as well. The Prologue is true to its name in North America, though, as it will mark the beginning of a blitz of Honda BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) models in the region.
The Honda Prologue SUV will be American technology underneath a Japanese shell or top hat. In April 2020, Honda and General Motors formed an agreement to develop two EVs for Honda. The two co-developed EVs will ride on GM’s third-generation global EV platform and use the same partner company’s Ultium batteries.
The third-generation global EV platform and Ultium batteries can deliver EVs with outstanding capabilities, which the GMC Hummer EV and GMC Hummer EV SUV demonstrate. We’re talking about battery packs with up to 800 V voltage and 200 kWh battery energy content, up to 350 kW fast charging rate, 400 miles of range, and 0-60 mph acceleration time of as low as three seconds. The Honda Prologue EV won’t get the best of what’s technically possible, as it needs to stay affordable.
Designed at Honda
Honda will design the exterior and interior of the Prologue SUV. It plans to borrow only the core components from GM, and so, rest assured, the Prologue SUV should look like a true Honda.
Alleged teasers of the Honda Prologue, viewable on Twitter (@Dear_March23), suggest that it will indeed be a CR-V-sized model. It looks to sport a curvier design compared to the edgy Honda e:NS1 and Honda e:NP1 small electric SUVs. Inside, it won’t be very fluidic with a single panel design like the Mercedes EQS SUV, though. With the GM-developed third-gen global EV platform underpinning it, we expect it to accommodate a practical frunk.
Luxury market cousin
The Honda Prologue EV will have a luxury cousin from Acura. The untitled Acura electric SUV is the second EV which Honda plans to co-develop with General Motors, which is also confirmed for a 2024 landing.
In the U.S., the Honda Prologue will be available in only select states at launch. Honda says that it will initially focus on California and the ZEV states, including Texas and Florida. The company expects these regions to bring the bulk of sales because of higher customer acceptance of EVs and regulatory requirements. It will expand the availability nationwide when the EV infrastructure and customer interest grow.
In the first year of sales, Honda is targeting to ship 70,000 units of Prologue. It hasn’t clarified whether that number is for the U.S. alone or includes the deliveries in Canada. Regardless, it seems like sales would be considerably lower compared to the gasoline SUVs like the CR-V and Pilot. The company has been clocking 300,000+ CR-Vs and 100,000+ Pilots annually in the U.S. for years now.
Made in the USA from 2024
Production of the Honda Prologue EV and its Acura offshoot will take place in the USA. However, GM will make these electric SUVs, not Honda. The Japanese automaker expects to launch the Prologue SUV in early 2024 and introduce the all-electric Acura SUV in the same calendar year. So, it may unveil these cars around late 2023. We expect the all-electric Honda SUV to compete with the VW ID.4 and cost around USD 38,000 in the base configuration.
Several more Honda EVs to follow
At a press briefing on July 16, 2021, Honda global CEO Toshihiro Mibe said that the company is open to forming an alliance if that allows it to achieve its goals early. Electrification is not commercially feasible right now, Mibe said. So, a technical alliance with an automaker can help Honda take some burden off the costs involved in its transition in the early years.
A Reuters report says that the Japanese automaker will use the opportunity of the switch to zero-emission vehicles to review the existing product line-up, suggesting that non-performing models would get the axe during the transition period as part of cost-cutting.
Once the volumes pick up, Honda can switch to indigenous products. In the second half of the decade, it plans to release new EV models based on a new indigenously developed EV platform called e:Architecture. These models will go on sale first in North America before other regions. The company has set a target of increasing the sales ratio of EVs and FCEVs in North America to 40% by 2030. It aims to increase that figure to 80% by 2035 and ultimately transition to a zero-emission brand in the region by 2040.
The Honda e:Architecture models will roll out of Honda factories in North America. Along with these models and the Honda Prologue, the Japanese automaker expects to sell 500,000 EVs in North America by 2030.
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