The outsourced vehicles could be a source of friction at Honda down the road given its extensive manufacturing base in North America and its proud engineering tradition. But Gardner said that partnering with GM for the first two EVs was beneficial for both companies from an investment perspective "and a good place for us to start."
Honda Motor Co. makes automobiles, motorcycles and power equipment as part of its claim to fame as the biggest engine maker in the world. As all of those will transition to electric power, so will the jobs associated with them.
Gardner said that Honda plans to shift to its own automotive E:Architecture platform in the second half of the decade for future electric vehicles that will be made in its own factories. He didn't detail what those vehicle types might be, but said there will be "a series" of Honda-developed electric vehicles.
"We're not saying we'll do it exclusively, and we're not saying we'll do it in conjunction with others," Gardner said. "What we are saying is we will lead the development of the E:Architecture and that's what will certainly take us to the end of the decade."
Honda's staggered goals for zero-emission vehicle sales globally is to reach 40 percent by 2030.
Some Honda rivals are far more aggressive in their plans to roll out EVs. Hyundai has two EV models that share a platform with gasoline vehicles. Hyundai will have its first EV on a dedicated platform, the Ioniq 5 compact crossover, in U.S. showrooms this fall. By 2024, Hyundai will add an Ioniq 6 sedan and Ioniq 7 midsize crossover.
Honda will move to increase hybrid sales as a transition to battery-electric vehicles, Gardner said, but he didn't identify any new hybrid models or timelines. Currently, Honda has three sedan hybrids and a hybrid version of the CR-V compact crossover. The brand's Passport and Pilot crossovers are due for a redesign in the next year or so.
"Step one for us is to increase that hybrid penetration," Gardner said. "We believe there's kind of a linear progression, where a consumer would move from a gasoline engine to a hybrid engine, and then into a fully electrified vehicle." He suggested plug-in hybrids were not part of that transition from Honda's perspective.