Honda Zero — The Future Of Mobility Is About To Arrive

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Already this year, Honda surprised us with an announcement that it plans to invest $14 billion in a new EV and battery factory in Canada. Coming from a company that has previously treated electric cars as a curiosity at best, an expensive nuisance at worst, we are left to wonder just exactly what the company has up its corporate sleeve when it comes to transitioning to vehicles that don’t have traditional infernal combustion engines.

If what the company brought to CES 2024 is any indication, Honda is not planning on electric versions of its Accord and Civic models, or its CR-V, Passport, and Pilot SUVs either. In fact, the two show cars — the Saloon and Space-Hub — look like no other vehicles ever to wear the Honda badge. Actually, they don’t look very much like any production cars ever made, although some older readers may see an echo of the grille from a 1969 Dodge Charger in the front end of the Saloon.

Honda And The Power Of Dreams

Japanese companies like to delve deeply into legend and culture to describe their view of the world. That symbolism is important to their sense of identity. Honda says its latest global brand slogan is, “The Power of Dreams — How we move you,”  which it says conveys the message that Honda will create mobility products and services which enable people to “transcend various constraints such as time and place,” and to “augment their abilities and possibilities.” With such mobility products and services, Honda will support the realization of dreams of more people and become the driving force that moves society forward.” Here’s more philosophy from Honda,

The Honda 0 Series is a new EV series that symbolizes how Honda is undergoing a major transformation in line with its Global Brand Slogan and electrification policy. The series name represents Honda’s determination in taking on this challenge of developing new EV series by going back to the starting point of Honda as an automaker and creating completely new EVs from “zero.” With this new EV series, Honda will strive to further advance its “M/M concept” and the “joy of driving,” which Honda values in its car making, and take the “joy and freedom of mobility” to even greater heights.

In 2026, the company will begin introducing the first model of the Honda 0 Series globally, starting from North America, then to Japan, Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. For those who are curious, in Honda-speak, the M/M concept stands for “Man Maximum/Machine Minimum” — which is designed to increase the efficiency of the vehicle interior by maximizing space for people and minimizing the space required for mechanical components.”

It says the three words that best describe its new approach to electric vehicles are thin, light, and wise. If that is so, it certainly represents a departure from the rest of the industry. Other than the Aptera, most EVs are bulky and heavy. Wise is in the mind of the beholder, we suppose.

This is all some very New Age, touch-feely stuff and it is possible some senior Honda executives wake up every morning with those ideas on their lips. But they don’t tell us very much about the cars they intend to build. Here’s what we know so far.

Honda 0 Saloon

Courtesy of Honda

In many parts of the world, a four door passenger car is called a saloon, not to be confused with a place where cowboys used to gather in the Old West to drink cheap whiskey and gamble. Since Honda has not seen fit to provide any technical details about the car, we are left with the rather breathless description in the press materials.

The Saloon is the flagship concept model of the Honda 0 Series, which embodies the “Thin, Light, and Wise” approach. The dedicated EV architecture extends the degree of freedom in design and elevates the M/M concept in the era of EVs. The low height, sporty styling that sets the Saloon apart from other EVs at first glance realizes both a fascinating design and an interior space that is more spacious than people can imagine based on the exterior appearance. Moreover, the instrument panel features a human-machine interface that enables simple and intuitive operations, realizing a sophisticated and seamless user interface. With an exhilarating visibility and intuitive UI, the Saloon strives to provide a fun driving experience that resonates with the driver’s sensibility.

Courtesy of Honda

With the adoption of steer-by-wire and the further advancement of the motion management system, including posture control, that Honda has amassed through the development of original robotics technologies, the Saloon aims to realize control at the will of the driver in a variety of driving situations. As the flagship model of the Honda 0 Series, the Saloon pursues the ultimate “joy of driving” in the EV era. Furthermore, including the use of sustainable materials for the interior and exterior, the Saloon is being developed as a unique model that resonates with users and the natural environment.

What more could we add to that glowing description? Perhaps this highly stylized video will tell us more.

Honda 0 Space-Hub

Courtesy of Honda

What can we say about the Honda 0 Space-Hub other than the fact that it somewhat resembles the GM minivans from Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile 40 years ago with a bustle added to the rear? Here’s how Honda describes it.

Under the common design language of the Honda 0 Series, the Space-Hub was developed under the theme of “augmenting people’s daily lives.” Realizing a spacious cabin and excellent visibility based on the “Thin, Light, and Wise” development approach, the Space-Hub offers a flexible space that immediately accommodates what the users want to do, and becomes a hub that connects people to people and people to society, generating mutual resonance with each other.

Courtesy of Honda

A New Era Calls For A New Logo

The current “H” logo has a long history dating back to 1981. To commemorate the development of the next-generation EVs, Honda decided to design a new logo to express Honda’s determination to pursue the transformation as well as Honda’s corporate attitude of going beyond the origin of the company and constantly pursuing new challenges and advancements. This design expression, like two outstretched hands, represents the company’s commitment to augment the possibilities of mobility and sincerely serve the needs of the users of Honda EVs. This new logo will be used on next-generation EVs of Honda, including 0 Series models.

Courtesy of Honda

The Takeaway

Overall, Honda is aiming for 30 new EVs by 2030 with 2 million units sold, 100 percent zero-emission auto sales by 2040, and carbon neutrality “for all products and corporate activities” by 2050. That’s a lofty goal for a company that so far has largely ignored the transition to electric cars. Clearly the company’s presentation at CES 2024 was intended to suggest what direction it plans to go in when it joins the EV revolution in 2026 and beyond.

The fact that it talks about the Saloon being a driver’s car at a time when everyone else is focusing on automated driving is interesting and cuts against the grain of conventional wisdom in the industry. We can’t wait to see what the electric cars from Honda will be all about.


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