General Motors will help develop two new electric vehicles for Honda that will be powered by GM's upcoming Ultium batteries, the automakers said Thursday.
Honda will design the interior and exterior of the vehicles. They will ride on GM's global EV platform, which "will be engineered to support Honda's driving character," the companies said in a joint statement.
GM will build the EVs at its North American plants, and sales are expected to begin in the 2024 model year in Honda's U.S. and Canadian markets.
The vehicles will offer GM's hands-free advanced driver-assist technology. The technology mirrors GM's Super Cruise system but will have Honda-specific branding, a spokeswoman said.
"This collaboration will put together the strength of both companies, while combined scale and manufacturing efficiencies will ultimately provide greater value to customers," Rick Schostek, executive vice president of American Honda, said in the statement. "This expanded partnership will unlock economies of scale to accelerate our electrification road map and advance our industry-leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
GM and Honda's electrification partnership goes back to 2013, when the automakers jointly developed hydrogen fuel cell technology. The companies also worked together on the Cruise Origin, a self-driving, shared electric van unveiled in January. Honda invested $2.75 billion into GM's Cruise subsidiary last year and became involved in GM's battery module development efforts starting in 2018.
The companies continue to evaluate the possibility of extending the partnership further, Schostek said.
As part of the agreement, Honda will incorporate GM's OnStar safety and security services into the vehicles, integrating them with HondaLink.
The agreement "further validates the technical advancements and capabilities of our Ultium batteries and our all-new EV platform," Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of global product development, said in the statement. "It is another step on our journey to an all-electric future and delivering a profitable EV business through increased scale and capacity utilization. We have a terrific history of working closely with Honda, and this new collaboration builds on our relationship and like-minded objectives."
Honda has long resisted jumping on the EV bandwagon, insisting that hybrids are more appropriate for the North American market. At the same time, the company has stressed its partnerships with GM on hydrogen fuel cell development and autonomous driving.
Honda debuted its Honda e small EV in Europe in January but said there were no plans for the city car with limited EV range to come to the U.S. Honda also discontinued its Clarity EV in the U.S. The Clarity had only 89 miles of range and was considered a "compliance car" to meet zero-emissions vehicle regulations in California and other states.
GM, meanwhile, has pledged $20 billion toward electric and autonomous vehicle programs through 2025. It plans to build 20 EVs globally by 2023 and is converting its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant into an EV manufacturing hub with a $3 billion investment.
GM's proprietary Ultium battery, which it will manufacture through a $2.3 billion joint venture with LG Chem in Ohio, will allow for a range of up to 400 miles on a full charge — about 50 percent more than the 259-mile range for the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt.
The batteries have large-format, stackable pouch-style cells for more flexibility and optimal battery energy storage. They are made of a traditional nickel-cobalt-manganese combination, but GM also added aluminum to reduce the amount of costly cobalt by 70 percent.
GM last month said the Ultium technology would allow its battery costs to drop below $100 per kilowatt-hour, the threshold widely seen as making EVs competitive with internal-combustion vehicles. The company projects its EV sales in North America and China combined will reach 1 million a year by the middle of the decade.
Laurence Iliff contributed to this report.