Honda prepares all-out hybrid assault through 2030

And it's going it alone.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
3 min read

While other automakers are content to buddy up, Honda doesn't seem to care that one is the loneliest number. The company seems content to chart its own course through the industry while it prepares for an onslaught of new hybrids over the next decade or so.

Honda wants more than two-thirds of its US sales to come from green cars by 2030, Automotive News reports. This would include hybrids, EVs, plug-ins and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Considering it sold less than 2,500 hybrids thus far in 2016, its plan to sell more than 1 million green cars annually is awfully optimistic.

Honda's electrified offerings will have to expand to meet those targets. Right now, it only sells hybridized variants of certain vehicles, such as the Accord Hybrid and Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, as well as the all-hybrid NSX supercar. In the future, the company will release a hybrid variant of its Acura MDX crossover, too.

The automaker's next big green car will actually be a dedicated model, like Hyundai's Ioniq. The Honda Clarity, currently sold only as a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in certain countries, will expand its offerings to include traditional gas-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle variants. This should hopefully fill some of the gap left over by the now-discontinued Civic Hybrid, and then some.

If it really wants to penetrate the electric market, it will need to roll out cars with more mass appeal. The CR-V is the brand's cash cow, so a CR-V Hybrid would seem like a sure hit, especially as Toyota rolled out a hybrid variant of the RAV4, which competes directly with Honda's compact ute.

The 2017 Honda CR-V is all classed up for a new generation

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Of course, even with a lineup lousy with hybrids and electrics, Honda won't meet its goals if public sentiment doesn't move in that direction. Trucks and SUVs still reign supreme in the US market, and the market hasn't yet fully embraced electrified vehicles.

Honda's desire to flood the market with electrics and hybrids isn't its only pie-in-the-sky goal at the moment. While other automakers are buddying up left and right -- including partnerships with both competing automakers and tech-industry stalwarts and startups -- the Japanese automaker plans to go it alone.

Takahiro Hachigo, Honda's CEO, told Automotive News that his company has no plans to jump headfirst into a series of partnerships. The company will continue to go it alone until it finds a "win-win" pairing. Honda's goal isn't to sell 10 million cars a year, like some of its competition. Rather, it prefers to stay independent, selling "just" 5 million cars a year and retaining its identity, some of which relies on that independence.

The issue there is cost. Developing new powertrains and connected-car technologies will not be cheap, and without a partner, Honda will face the brunt of those costs -- and the majority of the development -- on its own. Profitability will likely take a hit as those costs pile up, and any benefit of going it alone doesn't seem worth the cost. Yes, Honda will be able to retain the independence it's always prized, but whether it's worth it or not is another thing entirely.

Watch this: On the road: 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid

Honda's production Clarity Fuel Cell on the test track (pictures)

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