January 6th, 2021 by Steve Hanley
The latest scuttlebutt whizzing around the US auto industry claims General Motors will manufacture two battery electric SUVs for Honda. At the China auto show last September, Honda revealed a concept electric SUV it said would be its first electric SUV offering in the Chinese market. In a press release, the company said,
The Honda SUV e:concept is a concept model which indicates the direction of a future mass-production model of the Honda brand’s first EV to be introduced in China. Honda is striving to develop a mass-production EV model which will offer a value based on mobility experiences that remain fresh and FUN for customers. To this end, the new EV model will be equipped with omni-directional ADAS — the next-generation Honda SENSING safety and driver-assistive system with improved recognition, predication and decision-making performance — as well as the next-generation Honda CONNECT which features an AI assistant interface, smartphone link, and wireless updates made possible by advanced connectivity.
Citing a report by Automotive News (subscription required), Motor 1 says General Motors plans to manufacture the Honda badged version of the new electric SUV at its Ramos Arizpe factory in Mexico, alongside the Chevrolet Blazer and Equinox. An Acura branded version is expected to be built in the same Tennessee factory where the Cadillac Lyriq will be manufactured.
Unnamed sources tell Automotive News the two cars are expected to go into production in 2023 and will use GM’s Ultium battery technology. Both Honda models are said to be approximately the same size as the upcoming Lyriq. More details about the joint manufacturing arrangement between Honda and GM are expected later this year. A picture can’t tell us much about range, battery size, charging speed, or overall efficiency, but the concept vehicle looks mighty appealing, which is good news for people looking to purchase a battery electric SUV.
Mazda MX-30 Electric And PHEV Head To America
In other electric SUV news, Motor 1 is also reporting that Jeff Guyton, head of Mazda’s North American operations, told the Detroit Bureau recently that that Mazda MX-30 is headed to America. He just didn’t say when. “We have launched the MX-30 in Europe, which is our first battery electric vehicle. And we will be making that product available in the future with a rotary range extender. Any chance of it coming to the US? Yes, it will, though we haven’t talked about the date publicly yet,” he said.
To clarify, the reporter asked specifically, “And it will have the [rotary engine] range-extender option for the US, like you’re planning in Europe?” Gayton replied, “That’s our plan. For the U.S. market, the range extender option would be more appropriate.”
A report by Nikkei Asia claims Mazda’s goal with the rotary range extender will be to double the range of the MX-30. Currently, the car has a range of 124 miles on a single charge as measured by the WLTP protocol. The company expects the rotary engine will extend the range of the car to 249 miles WLTP.
Autoblog adds that there will also be a “mild hybrid” version of the MX-30 that uses a version of the Synergy Drive hybrid technology pioneered by Toyota for the Prius. That car is already on sale in Japan but Mazda has not said anything about offering it in other markets. The battery electric MX-30 is slated to go on sale in Japan this month and in Europe this Spring. The range extender version is not expected to become available until sometime next year.
Mazda has been keeping the Wankel engine flame alive for 50 years, ever since the days when it ran its famous “boing boing” commercials like this one.
The rotary has one enduring feature — a high power to weight ratio. It is also quite compact compared to a normal piston engine, which should make it ideal for running a generator to help power an electric car. What we don’t know yet is whether it will just charge the battery or help power the driven wheels as well. Perhaps by this time next year we will have the answer to that question.
The common factor between the new electric SUVs from Honda and the MX-30 are that they are all compact models that should slot right into the hottest segment in most new car markets worldwide. People just can’t get enough cute utes so if you want to sell an electric car, that seems like a smart way to begin. The Tesla Model 3 sedan continues to defy all the rules in the car game at present. Where most manufacturers are shutting down their sedan production lines, Tesla is building more. Perhaps Tesla and Elon Musk know something the others do not?
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