GM gives Honda a head start on electric vehicles

American Honda Motor Co. has two electric vehicles on the horizon: the Honda prologue and the Acura ZDX.

Both are being co-developed with General Motors and will use the Detroit automaker’s new flexible and scalable electrical architecture powered by the Ultium battery.

The partnership allows Honda to leverage the investments GM has made in its Ultium drive system and its next wave of electric vehicles as it prepares for its own zero-emissions future.

But one surprise benefit Honda will get from the collaboration couldn’t have been foreseen by any crystal ball: a price advantage of $7,500.

When the Prologue and ZDX hit the market in 2024, both should land a spot on the coveted list of vehicles approved for new federal tax credit under the Reducing Inflation Act – thanks to GM’s electrification handbook.

This will give the Honda and Acura brands a competitive advantage over automakers importing their electric vehicles, especially Hyundai and Kia, which have, so far, gained market share and momentum with their early electric entries. on the market.

Under the Cut Inflation Act, Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 and Kia’s EV6 and Niro will not be eligible for the credit, as the new rule requires that final vehicle and battery assembly, as well as the supply of materials, be limited to North America.

Luckily for Honda, GM is building electric vehicles locally.

GM has invested heavily in joint venture battery factories with supplier LG Energy Solution and poured money into existing factories so it can build electric vehicles and electric vehicle components for its Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac and Buick.

GM has three battery plants in operation or underway and is survey locations for a fourth. It also has three auto plants designated for the production of electric vehicles in the United States – Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee, Factory Zero in Detroit and Orion Assembly in Michigan – and another in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.

All of these plants are eligible for the North American assembly credit. And that begs the question: at which GM plants will the Honda Prologue and Acura ZDX be assembled?

Honda did not reveal its production plan for the vehicles. But it’s a safe bet that the Prologue will be built in Ramos Arizpe and the ZDX in Spring Hill.

spring hill assembles the Cadillac Lyriq electric midsize crossover, the Cadillac XT5 and XT6 and the GMC Acadia. GM said it will move production of the Acadia to Lansing, Michigan, and the Spring Hill plant will be used to build future EVs.

One of GM and LG Energy Solution’s joint-venture battery cell plants is also adjacent to the Spring Hill automotive plant and will begin production in late 2023.

Spy photos have captured a ZDX prototype near GM’s proving grounds in Milford, Michigan, and while it’s distinctly Acura-styled, with several elements that derive from the concept, it appears to have the same pillar arrangements. A, B and C as the Lyrical. Acura didn’t release any dimensions, but the Precision EV concept teased a midsize crossover like the Lyriq.

No specs have been released for the ZDX, but the Lyriq offers a 340hp single-motor rear-wheel setup powered by a 100-kilowatt-hour battery with a range of 312 miles. A twin-engine all-wheel-drive Lyriq will be released in early 2024.

Meanwhile, GM is assembling its gas-powered Chevrolet Blazer in Ramos Arizpe. The automaker is planning a battery-powered version of the sporty midsize crossover in late 2023, designated as a 2024 model year vehicle.

Word on the street is that Honda’s Prologue will be based on the Blazer EV and built alongside it in the same way as the ZDX and Lyriq.

The styling of the Prologue, which Honda introduced this month, has an A-, B-, and C-pillar layout identical to that of the Blazer. Honda has confirmed that the Prologue will be a mid-size crossover, the same segment as the gas-electric Blazer.

The Honda-engineered design of the Prologue will fit atop the Blazer platform. The Blazer will offer different battery sizes and three drive systems: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

The ties between Cadillac and Acura, as well as between Honda and Chevrolet, also make sense from a market positioning perspective.

Honda’s lag in the EV party in recent years and its need to lean on GM for its first two volume all-electric entries seemed unflattering as Honda’s global competitors moved surely and aggressively toward electrification. . But it turns out that these decisions will serve the Japanese automaker well.

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