Honda Will Launch a New EV Sub-Brand, but Not Here

·4 min read
Photo credit: Honda
Photo credit: Honda
  • Honda will launch lineup of electric models in China starting next year, in a partnership with Dongfeng and GAC, indicating that it has aspirations to export some of the models from China.

  • The Japanese automaker reveals concept images of three models, including a sedan, coupe, and SUV, to be launched in 2024 with a distinct design language.

  • Honda plans to offer the separately engineered Prologue electric SUV in the US starting in 2024, using GM's Ultium architecture for the effort, before launching its own e-Architecture in the second half of the decade.

This week the Japanese automaker revealed details of a bold plan to launch an EV sub-brand next year, with the e:N slated to appear in 2022. Honda gave a preview of some of the vehicles that will be a part of this brand via an image showing concept cars, revealing three SUVs, a coupe, and a sedan, all sharing a dramatic front fascia design with a thin, line-shaped LED headlight pattern stretching across the entire front of the car and dropping into the front wings. In all, 10 new models will debut as a part of this electric-only lineup in the next five years.

This sub-brand and its vehicles won't be offered stateside, however, at least not at first, with Honda intending to launch the first examples in China.

Honda says that it envisions exporting them from China, but has not mentioned specific markets; Europe is certainly among the usual suspects.

Some explanation of the name of this new sub-brand is perhaps required, even though at first glance it's a coupling of the incredibly widespread usage of the letter "e" among electric cars, but also contains N, which happens to be Hyundai's own performance sub-brand.

"The name 'e:N' represents Honda's desire to energize people who are trying to do things based on their own initiative in this era of electrification," the automaker says. "The 'e:' is from 'e:Technology,' the collective brand name for Honda's electrification technologies with which Honda strives for carbon neutrality. The letter 'N' stands for ‘New/Next,’ representing new value creation for the next-generation of mobility."

Photo credit: Honda
Photo credit: Honda

Production versions of three of the futuristically styled models will first appear on sale in 2024, with the e:N SUV, e:N GT sedan, and e:N Coupe slated to be offered in the EV-friendly market. The images of the concepts are perhaps not meant to be taken too literally, featuring very flat, vertical sides and sharp angles, as well as concave front fascias, appearing surprisingly similar to the front fascia of the Tesla Cybertruck and the Cadillac Lyriq.

The first vehicles of the new sub-brand will be more conventional, with the e:NS1 and e:NP1 due to go on sale in the spring of next year. The former will be produced by Dongfeng Honda, while the latter will be made by GAC Honda, which are the automaker's two current joint ventures with Chinese automakers in mainland China. The automaker will rely on battery manufacturer CATL for the vehicles' power needs.

"In the area of sales, timed with the sales of e:NS1 and e:NP1, an area dedicated to the e:N Series will be created at approximately 1200 existing Honda dealership locations around China," the automaker added. "Moreover, further ahead, Honda is planning to launch dedicated e:N dealerships in major cities of China, which will specialize in sales of e:N Series models. In addition, Honda will create more opportunities for customers to take time and experience the value the e:N Series will offer, including experience-oriented e:N Series events Honda will hold around China."

Photo credit: Honda
Photo credit: Honda

This doesn't mean that Honda is ignoring the US market completely when it comes to EVs. The automaker will use GM's Ultium platform to offer one Honda-badged and one Acura-badged electric SUV in 2024, before rolling out its own e:Architecture platform in the second half of the decade. So EVs from Honda are certainly on the way, just not in the very near future when you can see them or put a deposit on them this year.

From this strategy it's clear that Honda is taking a very region-focused approach to EVs, developing very separate paths for EV lineups across several regions. The automaker is also clearly not in a hurry to field EVs in North America again, having just withdrawn one electric model a short time ago. Honda offered an electric car stateside until just a couple of years ago, dropping the 89-mile Clarity Electric in the spring of 2019, which helps explain its more measured, current approach to EVs in the US.

Should Honda offer some of these models built in China in the US, or is demand for these segments still forming? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned