TOKYO — Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo is tapping the brakes on high expectations for high technology, joining a small but growing chorus of auto executives in sounding a reality check on aggressive visions for the rapid rollout of electric cars and autonomous driving vehicles.
"The hurdles to battery electric vehicles and complete autonomous driving are still quite high," Hachigo said in an interview last month at Honda Motor Co.'s global headquarters here.
When it comes to electrification, Hachigo said, Honda will focus on gasoline-electric hybrids, not full EVs, through 2030. And with self-driving cars, Honda will prioritize incremental advances that offer real-world safety at affordable prices, rather than fancy functions and costly lidar systems.
To hear Hachigo tell it, Honda isn't trailing rivals, it's just more realistic.
"I don't know whether other manufacturers are becoming too optimistic or not, but apparently the approach in going about these regulations differs from one company to another," he said.
Indeed, Hachigo said Honda already has many of the technologies ready to go, including its own hands-off autonomous system for highways. But Honda remains cautious about deployment of automated driving as well as electric cars.
"EVs will not be mainstream," the Honda CEO said, adding that more advanced autonomous driving, such as Level 3, will require more expensive advanced driver-assistance systems.
"So, we will be cautious in trying to identify what vehicle model will be optimal."