Honda JV to build EV plant

Honda Motor Co., aiming to expand its share in the world’s largest EV market, plans to construct a second assembly plant for all-electric vehicles in China.

The new factory, to be built in the central China city of Wuhan, is slated to start production in 2024 with initial annual capacity of 120,000 vehicles, Honda’s China office said 5 January.

The plant will be jointly constructed by Honda and local partner Dongfeng Motor Co. Much of the assembly line, from production, stamping and welding, will be automated, Honda said in a statement.

The 6.7m square feet plant will also use sustainable energy, such as solar power, and recycled water to reduce air pollution, the automaker said.

Honda disclosed in November that it was preparing to build its first EV plant with local partner GAC Motor Co., which is also scheduled to begin output in 2024 initially with annual capacity of 120,000 vehicles.

The Japanese brand is set to launch sales of two locally produced crossovers -- the P1 and S1 -- under a dedicated EV brand, e:N, in the first quarter.

The S1 will be built at Honda’s joint venture with Dongfeng while the P1 will be assembled at its partnership with GAC. 

Honda now assembles three EV models in China – the X-NV and M-NV at Dongfeng-Honda, and the VE-1 at GAC-Honda. The three models are all compact crossovers.

Japanese automakers are gearing up and planning to invest $10bn in EVs, with China seen as a key market. Toyota Motor Corp. has said it would invest $35bn in EVs, a big pivot for the world’s largest automaker that had previously championed hybrids.

Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe said in 2021 that the company — long prised for gasoline engines that power light vehicles, motorcycles, generators and even lawn equipment — would go all-electric on the car side by 2040, becoming Japan’s first automaker to publicly say so. It plans to roll out 10 EVs within five years from Dongfeng Honda and GAC Honda, with a plan to export the EV series from China.

Honda’s China sales, negatively impacted by lower production in the wake of the global microchip shortage, dropped 4% to 1.56m in 2021. The tally includes 233,801 hybrids.

Honda didn’t disclose EV sales in China in 2021.