How GM, Honda plan to chase the golden ring of sub-$30k EVs

GM and Honda have been working together for years and are now expanding that relationship to co-develop electric vehicles. They plan to produce millions of affordable EVs beginning in 2027 that leverage their respective technologies, they announced Tuesday.

At least one of the resulting EV models the tie-up produces will cost less than $30,000, a number that has become the golden ring of EV development for many carmakers who believe $30k is the price tag necessary to attract mass consumer adoption of the technology.  So far, various brands have mainly focused on higher priced models, some upwards of $70,000.

GM already has a Chevrolet Equinox EV in the works for launch next year with a starting price around $30,000. “GM plans to introduce a vehicle that’s even more affordable than that [Chevy Equinox EV] by leveraging the new GM-Honda project,” said James Cain, a GM spokesman, in an email to Fierce Electronics. 

Under the partnership “there will be a range of vehicles,” he added. “GM has its product strategy. Honda will have their own.”  One focus will be on producing compact crossover vehicles, the largest production segment globally, GM said in a statement.

Of course, getting to the below-$30k price point will depend heavily on the tech involved. In its statement, the companies said they will “discuss future EV battery tech collaboration to further drive down the cost of electrification, improve performance and drive sustainability for future vehicles.”

Honda has been working on solid-state battery tech and has a demonstration production line in Japan for such work. Likewise, GM is working on new battery tech such as lithium-metal, silicon and solid-state while changing production methods to update the battery cell manufacturing process.

Doug Parks, GM executive vice president for global product development, said the continuing development of its Ultium platform is at the foundation of the work with Honda. Ultium was first introduced in early 2020 as a modular EV platform that includes a high-capacity battery that can be used in various vehicles such as the Cadillac Lyriq or GMC Hummer EV.

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GM CEO Mary Barra said the two companies “will share our best technology, design and manufacturing strategies to deliver affordable and desirable EVs on a global scale…This is a key step to deliver on our commitment to achieve carbon neutrality in our global products and operations by 2040 and eliminate tailpipe emissions from light duty vehicles in the U.S. by 2035.”  GM has previously announced plans to be ready to produce and sell 2 million EVs globally by the end of 2025.

Going back to 2013, the two companies began work on a fuel cell system and hydrogen storage and in 2018, Honda joined GM’s EV battery module development. In 2020, they announced plans for two EVs, including the Honda Prologue, being launched in early 2024 to be followed by Acura’s first EV SUV. They are also working together on the Cruise Origin, an autonomous vehicle for driverless taxi and delivery services.

Honda has already invested $750 million in Cruise, the GM AV unit, after agreeing in 2018 to invest $2.75 billion in Cruise over 12 years in return for a 5.7% stake in Cruise.