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Honda CEO Hints Combustion Engines Could Stick Around Until 2040

Honda's big boss believes that for many vehicle applications, combustion engines will be the main form of propulsion for a long time to come.
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With nearly every car company pivoting to electric vehicles, automakers are having to simultaneously make short- and long-term business decisions that fluctuate as the results unfold. Such is the case with Honda. Despite ramping up its EV development, the Japanese manufacturer is keeping realistic expectations about the longevity of the internal combustion engine, now claiming that gasoline-powered vehicles could still be around by 2040.

While visiting the Marysville, Ohio manufacturing complex, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe said Friday that investment into the development of electrification and fuel cells is a priority. However, he expects performance cars, trucks, and other heavy-duty vehicles will keep combustion engines for some time to come.

“As we move toward carbon neutrality, we are focused on electrification and fuel cells—those are the two core components of future mobility,” said Mibe according to Reuters. “I’ve been in the engine development business for more than 30 years, so personally it’s a little threatening. But I have to separate my own feelings from what is best for the business.”

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In a conversation I had with Mibe last year, he explained that Honda’s ultimate goal is to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, which entails a lot more than just building EVs. A multi-faceted approach is required, involving combustion vehicles in markets where they make business and regulatory sense, while also focusing on EVs, hybrids, e-fuels, and hydrogen fuel cells for the rest of its portfolio.

It’s likely that Mibe’s comments here focus on Honda’s global purview rather than just North America’s. Honda and Acura will be debuting two new EVs next year, the Prologue and ZDX, both of which will call GM’s Springfield, Tennessee, assembly plant home. According to Reuters, Mibe also confirmed that Honda is readying its own EV architectures separately from its partnership with GM, and those should arrive by 2026.

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