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General Motors and Honda to co-develop electric cars in VW/Ford rivalling tie-up

GM hopes joining forces with Honda will bring it EV economies of scale in America.

General Motors and Honda of America have confirmed both brands will jointly develop future electric vehicles (EVs) together.

This tie up – perhaps a necessity in the face of Ford and VW’s joint development of next-generation utes and EVs – will see Honda design the exteriors and interiors of the new cars, which will use General Motors' electrified drivetrain technology, ‘super cruise’ autonomous tech, and production lines.

The tie-up between the brands was foreshadowed by Honda’s significant investment in General Motors' new autonomous vehicle subsidiary Cruise. The US$2.75 billion investment includes the development of Cruise’s first vehicle, the Origin, described as a “purpose built self-driving car”.

Honda has also previously agreed to work with General Motors on the development of hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technology to rival Toyota and Hyundai’s investment in the zero-emissions drivetrain technology field.

GM says the new tie-up will bring economies of scale for EV production, and plans to integrate its data systems and smartphone linking with its Japanese partner’s HondaLink technology.

The Cruise Origin is an entirely self-driving concept future mobility vehicle. The Cruise Origin is an entirely self-driving concept future mobility vehicle.

While the idea of the Cruise Origin might be firmly in the concept car basket for now, this co-development could represent a more immediate solution for the two brands which have been notably lagging on wide-scale electric vehicle technology.

Honda offers its e city car in Europe, and there have been rumours of a follow-up car on the same small platform, but nothing that size would be destined to do well in America or Australia where mid-size SUVs are king.

General Motors started out a leader in the electric field with its Chevrolet Volt small sedan (badged as a Holden locally), and Chevrolet Bolt city car, but has since only experimented with larger EVs in China where it is heavily invested in two brands – Baojun and Wuling. It also markets Chevrolet and Buick to the Chinese market, where it has produced the electric Menlo mid-size SUV which is said to be capable of a 410km driving range on a single charge.

The newly developed vehicles with Honda would use GM’s latest Ultium battery technology which it says is scalable across trucks, SUVs, cars, and even commercial vehicles.

While the Honda e electric city car is available in right-hand drive, the brand has ruled it out for an Australian launch. While the Honda e electric city car is available in right-hand drive, the brand has ruled it out for an Australian launch.

Even if whatever is developed is something akin to the Menlo for western markets, we wouldn’t place our bets on an Australian arrival any time soon, with GM exiting our market by retiring the Holden brand and Honda scaling back its Australian operation to what it calls an “agency” model.

In the meantime, General Motors plans to re-launch the Hummer brand as an EV marque, and is full steam ahead on developing an electric ute which it says will launch to left-hand drive markets in late 2021. It also plans an electrified overhaul of its Cadillac luxury brand.