Honda and Hitachi To Jointly Build Electric Motors For Themselves And Others

Honda and Hitachi are creating a joint venture company supplying electric vehicle motors to meet growing demand and strict vehicle emissions policies around the world.

There’s enough demand out there for the new JV to serve Honda and possibly other vehicle manufacturers, said Hitachi Automotive Chief Executive Officer Hideaki Seki at a media briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The JV plan includes plants in Japan, China, and the U.S. The two Japanese companies will consider using Hitachi’s existing plants in those three countries, Seki said.

The motor being built in the Honda-Hitachi venture can be used for hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles, Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said at the briefing. Honda will also continue making its own motors on its Japanese production lines, he said.

The JV can save costs on the huge capital investment needed for production, Hachigo said. Both companies can bring their technical expertise to the JV, bringing advantages to advance the competitiveness of the motors as well, he said.

Finding corporate customers is becoming more viable as tougher fuel economy and emissions mandates approach their next phases worldwide. Carmakers are looking for alliances to clear the hurdle, with the agreement signed Monday between Toyota and Suzuki being a clear example.

The push for automated vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, and fuel efficient technologies is also behind forging alliances between automakers and suppliers.

Hitachi Automotive, established in 2009 as a subsidiary of the conglomerate Hitachi Ltd., has been forging partnerships for EV components and systems for several years. Hitachi first started selling EV motors in 1999 and supplies them to Nissan, Toyota, and General Motors. The company also provides lithium ion battery cells to automakers.

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The Honda-Hitachi venture can help Honda gear up for its next phase of green car launches. That lineup currently consists of the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell that will later come out in plug-in hybrid and all-electric variations; the battery electric Fit subcompact car; and the Accord hybrid. The company is considering hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Civic.

Honda does have a tendency to roll out green vehicles in limited volumes for years of testing, sometimes pulling them from the market. The Honda Civic Natural Gas, Civic Hybrid, and Accord Plug-In Hybrid made that list.



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