UTSUNOMIYA, Japan — Honda Motor Co., long soft-spoken about its strategies for electric cars and autonomous driving in a world of raucous rivals, is suddenly talking louder.
Executives last week outlined bold goals to deliver lane-changing autonomous driving for highways by 2020 and then extend the effort to city streets with Level 4 self-driving vehicles by 2025.
At the same time, executives revealed that Honda has been quietly working on a range of electric vehicles under a new EV development division created in virtual secrecy in October.
That unit will deliver not only a dedicated EV for China next year, it is working on another EV that will be introduced at an auto show this fall — possibly targeting North America.
The revelations represent a leap forward for Japan's No. 3 automaker as it races to catch up with competitors on the industry's future technologies.
The sense of urgency was palpable among executives last week as they showcased their plans here.
"We have been lagging behind a little," Honda R&D Co. President Yoshiyuki Matsumoto said of the push, "so we are now trying to catch up. We are tightening the screws quickly."
CEO Takahiro Hachigo unveiled the strategy as part of a new 2030 midterm business vision, saying engineers needed more concrete targets and a clear timeline to keep them on track.
At the same time, Honda has created two other divisions tasked with enhancing the perceived quality of its products and making them cheaper to develop and build. Honda wants to ensure that in a future in which self-driving EVs risk becoming like appliances, Honda cars will remain fun to drive.