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Honda pledges to end sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040

Honda Motor Co Ltd

Honda pledges to end sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040

Japanese group aims to capitalise on alliance with GM to accelerate change in America

Toshihiro Mibe, chief executive of Honda, at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday. He said one key factor for meeting the carmaker’s targets is an improvement in battery technology © Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Honda’s new chief executive has pledged to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, one of the most ambitious targets for the switch to electric among the world’s largest carmakers.

In his first press conference since taking over Japan’s second-largest carmaker, Toshihiro Mibe said the group would capitalise on its existing alliance with General Motors to accelerate its shift to electric and hydrogen technology in the US.

“What we presented today is very challenging,” Mibe said. “We cannot yet clearly explain the basis for achieving them, but I believe clarifying the goals is a first major step.”

Earlier this year, GM said it hoped all of its light cars and trucks will be fully electric or run on hydrogen by 2035.

Most of the other big carmakers have set dates for ending the sale of traditional engines but will still rely on hybrid engines, which combine a smaller petrol or diesel engine with a battery.

Under Honda’s plan, electric and fuel cell vehicles will make up 40 per cent of new car sales in North America and China by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2035. 

Honda did not present a plan for Europe, where it has a smaller market share, but it said the shift to electric will be even faster in the region because of tougher emissions rules.

The exception to the targets is Japan, where it is heavily dependent on the sales of hybrids pioneered by Toyota. In its home market, Honda’s planned ratio of new car sales by 2030 is 80 per cent hybrid and 20 per cent vehicles powered by batteries or hydrogen.

Mibe said one key factor for meeting the targets is an improvement in battery technology. Honda aims to introduce lighter and safer “all-solid-state” batteries in cars sold in the second half of the 2020s.

To accelerate the development of electric vehicles with autonomous technology, he said the group would invest a total of ¥5tn ($46bn) in R&D over the next six years. 

Honda announced its plans just a day after Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s prime minister, set a new goal of reducing the country’s carbon emissions to 46 per cent of 2013 levels by 2040.

Honda has expanded its alliance with GM over the past year. The two companies are jointly developing two large electric vehicles using GM’s Ultium battery system, and plan to introduce them in North America by 2024.

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