BREAKING: General Motors & Honda To Partner To Develop Future Plug-In Hybrids

10 months ago by Eric Loveday 87

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

Two months ago, Honda made a splash by announcing that it’s committed to plug-ins vehicles.

More specifically, Honda stated that it would offer a plug-in hybrid with 40 miles of all-electric range starting in 2018. Β Honda promised the vehicle would be offered nationwide in the U.S.

The upcoming Honda PHEV is to have 40 miles of all-electric range, three times more than the departing Honda Accord PHEV (13 miles EPA).

40 miles combined with all-electric highway capability would make this Honda PHEV the closest competitor to the Chevrolet Volt.

But as it turns out, the Honda plug-in hybrid may not be a Volt competitor at all, but rather it could use Voltec technology to achieve the impressive 40-mile, all-electric highway capability that we refer to above.

There’s no mention of Voltec in the report, but it seems obvious to us that this technology is what would be employed on the Honda PHEV to achieve the specs/capability listed above.

Honda Accord PHEV

Honda Accord PHEV

In an interesting twist, it appears as though Honda and General Motors are close to finalizing a deal/partnership that would expand the companies’ collaborative efforts beyond fuel cell vehicles to include plug-in hybrids/EREVs.

Honda openly admits that General Motors has much more experience and expertise in the plug-in sector and is looking to strike a deal with General Motors that will allow the Japanese automaker to incorporate GM’s plug-in technology into its planned 2018 40-mile PHEV.

The tie-up between GM and Honda is said to be in “final negotiations,” so we expect an official announcement soon.

As The Japan News reports:

“Honda and GM are mulling cooperation in the development of a driving system for PHVs, and in the procurement of batteries and other auto parts. The companies believe their tie-up can shorten the development period and enhance their advantage in price negotiations with auto parts makers by boosting the volume of their procurement.”

“The two companies are considering the joint manufacture of PHVs and FCVs as well, in addition to their development.”

“Honda was originally planning to release PHVs on its own in the United States in 2018. With the partnership, the company aims to add GM’s know-how regarding PHV development to its own eco-cars, because GM is said to be more advanced in the field.”

General Motors & Honda are expected to partner on autonomous vehicle development as well.

Source: The Japan News

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87 responses to "BREAKING: General Motors & Honda To Partner To Develop Future Plug-In Hybrids"

  1. Djoni says:

    Sometime I just don’t get it.

    GM would have been able to “enhance their advantage in price negotiations with auto parts makers by boosting the volume of their procurement.” just by itself.

    Just implement the voltec in more mainstream version, Malibu, Equinox, Cruze or give that power train availability in all the platform that can support it, and there you have your volume incentive to part maker.

    Is this oversimplified or there is some other advantage to partner with Honda?

    1. Robb Stark says:

      There are lots of people that buy Hondas that will never set foot on a GM dealership. So you expand the addressable market.

      Obviously, GM believes that that marginal revenue for expanding the Voltec lineup beyond Volt would not be greater than the marginal cost.

      Or least not enough to justify the risk.

      1. Epicurus says:

        Right. GM burned too many customers with shoddy products in years (decades) past. A lot of people will never return. Honda, on the other hand, became successful because of its reputation for quality and reliability.

        1. Epicurus says:

          Quality and reliability were foreign concepts to American car manufacturers for too many years. Then they wondered why foreign cars became so popular.

          It’s too bad really that the Volt has to suffer for the past mistakes of GM. Apparently, it’s a great car. Perhaps the best course is to license its technology to other companies, like Microsoft did.

          1. Steve says:

            True. I would never have even considered stepping into any GM dealership before I decided to buy a 2016 Volt. I’ve been very happy with it.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        So, how do you see that working? Do you think GM cars will be re-badged as Hondas? Certainly not impossible. For example, the Chevy Volt was re-badged as the Opel Ampera for European sales.

        Or do you think GM and Honda will partner to create a new badge?

        1. Epicurus says:

          Sales will be better under the Honda name. Perhaps GM can make more money simply licensing its technology to other companies, like Microsoft does with its operating system.

        2. wavelet says:

          Huh? Completely irrelevant comparison.
          Opel is the European GM brand (except for its twin, Vauxhall, for the UK), and doesn’t complete with any other GM brand.

          Honda is certainly a GM competitor, in all vehicle classes except trucks.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            For U.S. sales, you’re right.

            But GM gave up on trying to penetrate Japan’s domestic auto market. Perhaps Honda will enable GM to sell cars there.

        3. Dave says:

          Before Honda started building SUVs, they rebadged the Isuzu Rodeo as a Honda Passport. Honda may not be convinced that it wants to build a plug-in hybrid, or it needs a car to fill the gap while they develop their own.

        4. liberty says:

          First car will probably be on the gen II clarity. GM doesn’t sell in japan. If you take the gm guts from the gen II volt, but 40 mile range, 5 seat, and a honda engine, it should fit well. GM and honda are working together on the gen III clarity. Perhaps they both sell a version on its own platform for a midsized hydrogen, and phev sedan.

        5. Robb Stark says:

          My guess is Honda buys the entire Voltec powertrain from GM except the ICE generator and use a Honda ICE generator instead.

          Then put than in the Clarity.

          BTW GM does sell in Japan. Just not very many units, just a few thousand. Some years less than 1k units.

    2. pat b says:

      That and the Malibu/Equinox/etc have a price point…
      or a demographic…

      It may be easier to scale by selling the Voltec to Honda
      then putting it into GMs other cars…

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Interesting idea. I’ve seen it reported that GM said the Voltec drivetrain couldn’t be scaled up for use in larger vehicles. Personally I think that’s just lack of imagination, or perhaps evidence that the GM leadership just doesn’t want to put it into larger vehicles. But so long as GM is going to act as if it’s actually true, partnering with an auto maker which specializes in smaller cars may make sense to them.

        1. Paul Stoller says:

          I’ve seen this stated multiple times but have never seen the source for it, I find it hard to believe being that the technology for the Voltec drivetrain was derived from the two-mode transmission that was used in full size trucks.

          1. finecadmin says:

            Well, yes and no. It’s clear the voltec scheme arose from the wreckage of the Tahoe hybrid, but…

            …so much of making and selling a mass-market vehicle (not a raceday special, a DoD silver bullet, or a driveway-trophy exotic) is testing. GM saying they can’t scale up the platform could mean they got it to work 98-99% of cases, but couldn’t handle, say, towing with the heater on, or mountains plus A/C, lumber on the roof causing drag, etc. Or any other odd stuff that’s still completely possible in a car.

    3. Personally I would be way more likely to buy a “volted” CR-V or Pilot than a GM product.

  2. Ash09 says:

    Well, at least they’re spreading their risks out, unlike say Toyota, who seems to be betting the alternative fuel farm almost solely on hydrogen fuel cells.

    1. David Murray says:

      That remains to be seen. I’m holding out some hope of a greatly improved Prius Plug-In.

      1. kdawg says:

        It will happen. Toyota will be dragged there, kicking & screaming, by the market/competition.

      2. sven says:


        I came across an short interview with the Toyota “HV development chief” in charge of developing the next plug-in Prius. He said the following:

        “To ensure EV driving performance, we will employ a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery and motor that are different from those of the new Prius. The Li-ion battery of the new Prius is focused on output density. Because EV driving will be prioritized for the next Prius PHV, we are currently developing a battery with a focus on energy density. Also, we will employ a drive motor larger than that of the new Prius.”

        “The current Prius PHV basically requires charging at home for EV driving. But, for the next Prius PHV, we are considering enabling the engine to rotate the generator more and storing more electricity in the battery.

  3. offib says:

    This was the oddest thing I’ve ever read. But good on them.

  4. kdawg says:

    If there ever was a validation of Voltec, this is it. Naysayers begone! πŸ™‚

    1. Elroy says:

      Perhaps what everyone is missing here is that GM might be seriously considering FCV. Honda really has the technology and know how to do a BEV. The Fit was a good car and FCV are really a super high tech electric car. So its not a one way street in technology here, Honda might has as much or more to offer GM. Using the Voltec drivetrain might more be a matter of convenience for Honda. Just look at the new NSX coming out. That car has more high technology in it than any car GM currently offers.

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        No. Just no.

      2. kdawg says:

        GM & Honda already had a partnership on fuel cells. This is about Honda wanting Voltec. “Honda openly admits that General Motors has much more experience and expertise in the plug-in sector”.

        I say lease the technology. The more Voltec cars on the road, the better.

      3. Robb Stark says:

        I have no doubt GM could match the NSX tech if they decided to charge $156k for a similar vehicle.

      4. pjwood1 says:

        The 2.0 series hybrid Accord has the best mid-size mpg, at ~50+ real world. True that there may be something to offer GM, but less so for 40 mile PHEV, where alternating multi-clutch systems seem to have become GM’s forte.

        1. finecadmin says:

          And yet nobody bought it. Granted, that could be Honda releasing it in ~5 states, dealers hating on it or just being clueless, etc. But these are things Honda HQ could have fixed if they really wanted. They didn’t want to.

      5. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Elroy said:

        “Perhaps what everyone is missing here is that GM might be seriously considering FCV.”

        Well, I suppose it’s not impossible that the apparent collective insanity which has infected Toyota may spread to GM. But in the long run it doesn’t matter. They might try to revive steam cars too, but in both cases they’ll either eventually realize it’s a dead-end tech, or else they’ll go bankrupt throwing money down a rathole.

        In any case, pursuing any type of personal transportation tech based on hydrogen fuel is not a path to the future.

  5. Lou says:

    I think this is very good news. If both are serious about PHEV’s, the potential is there for them to go in different directions(eg: different body styles, sizes, etc, small SUV’s, yet still maintain enough commonality that Honda can feel confident in the technology(Voltec is clearly a proven system)and GM can be part of what could be real diversification in application of Voltec. Both companies have more to gain and less to lose in such a venture. Maybe those who have been clamoring for a small SUV or 5 passenger car will get their wish. 40 mile range is still kind of small but for many people a 40 mile slightly larger PHEV would be perfect.


  6. Breezy says:

    Good news. People who would never consider buying a GM-branded Voltec vehicle will buy them if they say “Honda” on them.

    1. kdawg says:

      LOL. Maybe GM can get a small Intel-like sticker on it that says “Voltec Inside”.

      1. Raymondjram says:

        Toyota’s RAv4-EV had “Powered by Tesla” on its DIC, yet they didn’t sell many and were discontinued.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Toyota never intended to sell many. It was described as a “test market” car, but the reality is it was just another California compliance car.

          That’s why they paid Tesla to build the powertrain, rather than going to the trouble and expense of developing an EV powertrain of their own. If Toyota had been serious about pursuing BEV tech, they would have designed the RAV4 EV in house.

        2. Speculawyer says:

          The Rav4 was overpriced, lacked any fast-charging ability, and had several bugs.

          But it did have nice range.

  7. Anthony says:

    Would this be similar to when Ford and Toyota partnered for hybrid tech, and Ford basically got last-gen tech from Toyota?

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      That was a patent swap. Ford were able to do use some Toyota hybrid patents, and Toyota were able to use some Ford engine patents.

      This sounds more like Honda paying GM for patents so Honda can get their PHEVs to market.

  8. ct200h says:

    Sure Honda you can buy some of our 1st gen volt components for your car……$$$$$$
    while we sell Gen 2 Volts.

  9. Alan says:

    Sounds like they are both hedging their bets ! Spreading cost as well as risk.

  10. Breezy says:

    I guess naysayers are still here. πŸ™‚ I don’t think anyone is missing the FCV angle. It is a partnership, after all. Each partner needs to have something to offer the others.

    Everyone knows that GM and Honda have been working on FCVs, and that Honda can build a BEV. GM has been seriously considering FCV for decades. They’re just hedging their bets about which technology will be most successful.

    But GM does have, dare I say it, the best plug-in hybrid technology available.

    1. Raymondjram says:

      GM has better FCV technology. There are over 100 FC Equinox vehicles produced in 2008 that are still running. GM doesn’t need Honda for that! But GM went the PHEV way and did better. Honda now is looking that way, too.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Yup. Altho it isn’t often mentioned in online EV-related articles, auto makers have been doing R&D on “fool cell” cars about as long as they’ve been doing R&D on the modern version of the EV.

        It’s just that most auto makers, like GM, have not been foolish enough to try to put a FCEV into production. GM executives listened when their engineers told them “There is no way to make these practical”; apparently Toyota execs chose to ignore their engineers when they told them the same.

  11. ggpa says:

    Honda CR-V already sells like hot cakes. Imagine how well a Voltec version could do if reasonably priced.

  12. Scott Jarrell says:

    Have to admit the Volt is good on paper, but I would never buy a GM product. People get upset about the EV1, but the end of the of the street car was much worse.

    1. Open-Mind says:

      Seems rational. Likewise, I won’t buy a Honda or Toyota since they bombed Pearl Harbor.

      1. Yup says:

        LOL! Nice one. πŸ™‚

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Sure. Nobody should buy a car from any Detroit-based auto maker, because they bribed politicians to drive the Tucker Car Corporation out of business in 1949.


  13. Forever green says:

    I have a 2016 Chevy Volt. It is my first GM car, and by far the best car I have ever had. GM really hit a homerun with this one. Great car! Now that Honda wants the voltec system GM may appreciate what they have.

    1. Open-Mind says:

      If GM management appreciated Voltec, they would be leveraging it across their product line. Instead, after six long years, it’s still limited to just one compact-car model. And now they’re giving that golden goose away to the Japanese. Presumably, because the “GM” brand is so damaged beyond repair, only the superior Japanese can save them.

      Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

  14. Driverguy01 says:

    We all said the new Volt looked like a Honda so, Honda should just buy new Volts and rebadge them as Hondas.
    I bet they would sell 10 times as much as GM and something tells me they would be much, much better at marketing the ”new” car.
    I hate Honda, but if they join the revolution, my kids will have a better future. I’m at peace with that.

    1. Raymondjram says:

      Great idea! Honda would import Volts to Japan! That will balance the trade deficit!

  15. Brian says:

    Voltec drivetrain with the handling of a Honda? Sounds like a winning combination to me!

  16. Saint says:

    They should sell it in 12 states, not just 11. Wow, think how many more they could sell. If there were only more states to sell the Volt in. Oh wait, there is the huge market called Mexico. Good move GM.

  17. RexxSee says:

    I’m sick of those hybrids announcements! We need long ranged BEVs.

    40 miles AER for 2018! What a progress!

    1. vdiv says:

      It would be for rather many people/car companies πŸ™‚

      If the PHEVs are a delaying tactic, I’m sick of them too. However if they are an enabler, a jumping step, an EV with training wheels of sorts, then they still have a role to play, maybe even in 2018. Someone needs to do a study to see if that is indeed the case (it was with me).

      Now, about those non-plugin hybrids…

      1. kosee says:

        Training wheels? There’s nothing complicated about using a long range BEV that can’t be explained in 20 minutes. The problem is that there are no affordable long range BEVs….

        1. finecadmin says:

          Marketing and psychology ain’t that simple. If a laptop or camera gets bricked, you’re short one laptop/camera. If a car leaves you stranded, now it’s a safety issue. And humans are quite poor at forming rational conclusions on their personal safety.

    2. Speculawyer says:

      No. NO!

      Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. PHEVs can slash people’s gas usage by 70 to 90%!

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:


      2. RexxSee says:

        As I see it, they will sell a lot more hybrids than BEVs. Count the announcements!
        A delaying tactic I tell you.

        These are environmentally desperate times. We must take action a convince the lawmakers to force manufacturers into the most BEVs.

        WE MUST STOP this carbon madness at once. not only limit the increases!

        No, NO time left for half baked amphibian solutions.
        The global catastrophe is coming fast. ACT NOW!

        1. Beldelo says:

          You should take in account that Volt owners drive more electric miles than leaf owners.
          If you had no Volt those people would be driving just ICE-miles. My case

          1. RexxSee says:

            I don’t care , I want to see MORE choices of long ranged BEVs. 100% AER!

            1. ModernMarvelFan says:

              Then go and yell at Toyota who is #1 automaker in the world or VW who is #2 automaker in the world.

              At least GM is doing more than those two combined in terms of providing PEV choices…

              1. Djoni says:

                Seems like VW are now number 3!
                Thing tend to sink faster than reaching the surface.
                I’ll bet they will keep going down for a while.

  18. Brian Smith says:

    I think it’s possible that this is less about technological solutions to designing cars than it is about business solutions to making money. Perhaps GM wanted more scale for a hybrid drivetrain project portfolio, and Honda wanted less cost for a stopgap solution while continuing their own longer-term development. A Honda plug-in hybrid drivetrain probably doesn’t have to be further differentiated from the rest of Honda nor from a competing GM product to be marketable in North America.

  19. Nate says:

    Very interesting.

  20. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Well now, this is an interesting development!

    It’s obvious what GM can bring to the table: Voltec.

    What does Honda have to offer? Will they, perhaps, help enable GM to break into the Japanese and other Asian markets?

    1. Nate says:

      “What does Honda have to offer? Will they, perhaps, help enable GM to break into the Japanese and other Asian markets?”

      So I don’t have an answer to what Honda has to offer. My guess was they’d get revenue through licensing. I don’t think Honda alone can help GM in Asian markets. GM does fine in China, but not Japan. The market is not open to GM in Japan due to trade policy. No U.S. automaker does well there. I think it is due to policies on both sides with things each nation is trying to protect.

    2. Epicurus says:

      What does Honda have to offer? A reputation for quality and reliability, the polar opposite of GM’s reputation.

  21. Speculawyer says:

    Uh . . . what does GM get in this deal?

    They are giving away the Golden Goose! Put that damn drivetrain into bigger vehicles FFS!

  22. shane says:

    Car manufacturers need to spread development costs. Who would have thought GM & Ford would work together on the new transmissions – but they did. Cross-licensing technology & industrial capacity speeds deployment. Deploying affordable, competitive xEV products that make money, at non-Tesla price points is still a challenge. This helps move the (multi-manufacturer) development price down and the (multi-manufacturer) sales volume up. A win for everyone.

  23. Speculawyer says:

    BTW . . . this is a HUGE tail-between-the-legs raising of the white flag of surrender. Honda was one of the biggest supporters of fuel cell cars . . . and now they have to come crawling to an American car company to buy their PHEV technology? Hope no one commits Seppuku.

    1. finecadmin says:

      Yes, in the JDM, Honda had a reputation for their innovative engine technologies. Seeking GM is an admission they lost the spark. Something we could have told them for free, and were trying to.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I question it’s that significant. Sure, Honda was saying nice things about FCEVs in order to promote sales of their one, limited production “fool cell” car model. But I didn’t get the impression that Honda was going “all in” on spewing out anti-EV propaganda, claiming that FCEVs are the future of automobile tech and that EVs are a dead end, the way Toyota has been doing.

      I don’t get the impression that the leaders of Honda have deluded themselves into believing that “fool cell” cars can actually be practical, or believing that there’s no point in developing new plug-in EVs, the way Toyota’s leaders apparently have.

      Just my opinion, of course.

  24. tom911 says:

    Put the Voltec power train in a CRV and BAM! – lots and lots of sales.

    Seems GM will never produce the CUV I’ve been waiting for… maybe Honda.

  25. ModernMarvelFan says:

    I think this will be good for the PEV community.

    As many of you have commented that so many people wouldn’t even set foot in GM dealers. If Volt had a Toyota name on it, it would have sold at least 2x as much.

    I would personally buy a Voltec Accord or CR-V or Pilot in a heartbeat!

  26. Realdb2 says:

    I’m going to be the pessimist here and say this sounds like a compliance move by Honda. Rent the technology from GM, sell the minimum amount needed to get CARB credits and continue with a main focus of selling ICE vehicles.

    Hope they prove me wrong.

  27. Priusmaniac says:

    The voltec is not a flat battery so Honda is better off making his own system. Beside starting with the voltec doesn’t allow cars seating five.

    1. Nate says:

      Not true.

    2. ModernMarvelFan says:

      The upcoming CT6 can sit 5 just fine by moving the battery into the trunk.

      Honda can repackage the battery into various size if it wants to.

      Voltec is more than just battery as the new Malibu hybrid has shown.

    3. finecadmin says:

      The battery is the least important part of the systems design. It can be repackaged with little consequence to the motors, power electronics, and particularly the firmware. If it were just about the battery capacity or power, Honda could already handle that with their prior BEV work.

    4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      There is nothing about the Voltec powertrain that requires the back seat of a car to be too cramped for three adults. Heck, if GM would just use a flat battery pack under the floor, instead of that awkward “T” shape, that might be sufficient to make enough room for three passengers. At worst, they would have to widen the body by… what? Six to eight inches? Again, nothing about Voltec would prevent that.

      I think GM is deliberately sabotaging sales of the Volt by keeping the back seat cramped, because they don’t want the Volt to compete with their more popular gasmobiles. I can’t see any other rational reason for GM to fail to widen the back seat in the Volt 2.0.

  28. Phr3d says:

    agree with SL — Mary, say it ain’t So!
    At Least Wait for the 1Q16 sales figures to come in, Please?

  29. Drucifer says:

    An all wheel drive CRV with a Voltec drivetrain – I would buy one of those tomorrow. It would be way better for me (more range, less cost) than a Volvo XC90 T8 hybrid.
    The only thing that would compete, IMHO, would be a Tesla Model Y or W with a battery upgrade, and that won’t exist for at least 4-5 more years.