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Honda is poised to get its global groove back, with the brand unveiling what seems to be a complete EV brand reset that will begin in China before being exported to global markets.
While fellow Japanese brands Toyota (with models like the GR Yaris, incoming GR Corolla, new LandCruiser 300 Series, Toyota Supra and reborn Toyota 86), Subaru (with its WRX, incoming STi, Levorg and BRZ) and Mazda (with its new BT-50, CX-30 and CX-60 vehicle revolution, the MX-30, and the persistent rumours of a rotary revival) have been stealing most of the headlines for innovation, it could be about to be Honda’s turn again.
One of the coolest products Honda has produced in recent times, the all-electric e, is yet to be announced as coming to Australia, but the hugely positive reaction to the vehicle, with its retro-inspired design and clever drivetrain, has seemingly been the inspiration for a brand-wide reset in China that will then be exported to other markets — and that’s exciting news indeed.
At what the brand called its China Electrification Strategy Presentation, Honda made some bold EV claims, including a plan to launch 10 electric vehicles by 2030, as well as its new ‘e:’ electric sub-brand that will kick off next year with the launch of the e: NS1 and e: NP1 (the vehicle pictures at the far-left and far-right of the image directly above), and new info on its e:N Architecture, an electric-vehicle platform that will form the basis for many of its soon-to-come vehicles.
But what really grabbed our attention was the trio of e: N Concept vehicles (which they talked about being “worldwide”) - three funky and sharply angled EVs that appear to preview an entirely new design direction for the brand.
The e: N COUPE Concept, e: N SUV Concept and e: N GT Concept are tipped to launch within the next five years, and will ride on a new version of the brand’s electric architecture, this time aimed at larger vehicles, and set-up from the off with rear- or all-wheel drive capability baked in.
And Honda is using all the right words in describing its EV push, saying its electrified models will deliver “unity with the human vehicle and sporty and exhilarating driving”.
While the brand is yet to go electric in Australia (despite pleading for the Honda e to debut here), it seems as though its brand patnerships in China will fuel an EV revolution that will see an all-electrified model playing in just about every vehcile segment its got. And with two products launching next year, and the three concepts tipped for 2023-2024 production, it could be happening in the not-too-distant future.
What it means for Australia is yet to be revealed, but the brand has been suffering a sales slump here. In 2020, Honda sales fell 33.8 per cent to see the Japanese marque slip outside out top 10, finishing the year in 11th place.
In 2021, the slump has continued (some of which is contributable to the bedding in of a new agency sales model that has seen the number of dealerships in Australia reduce), with sales to the end of September down 38.5 per cent to 13,460 (from 21,877 to the same month in 2020), putting them in 14th position.
An electric charge could be just what's needed. And if it looks anything like anything like this new trio of concepts, we're in. But please, Honda, bring them to Australia.