Honda takes aim at Tesla; launches electric-only e:N series in China
Taking an aim at Tesla and in order to woo the middle class in the world's largest electric vehicle market, Honda Motor has launched the electric-only e:N line of vehicles in China, Nikkei Asia reported. The carmaker's new EVs will start at the equivalent of about $26,000, making them cheaper than Tesla' models. These will also be Honda's first EVs to bear the automaker's signature H logo in the Chinese market.
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Honda plans to introduce 10 models in the next five years in its e:N series, using a newly developed EV-specific platform. The first of these, the e:NS1 sport utility vehicle, was launched by local joint venture Dongfeng Honda. Another joint venture, GAC Honda Automobile, will begin taking preorders for the e:NP1 this month, a model similar to the e:NS1.
The report stated that the size of the e:NS1 puts it in the European category called the B-segment that includes subcompact cars. The price starts at 175,000 yuan or about $26,000 with subsidies included. The battery provides a range of 510 km and is made by Chinese manufacturer CATL, a company that Honda has invested in.
At present, Honda will produce the e:N models at the existing factories of the joint ventures, but they plan to build new facilities dedicated to EVs that are expected to start operations in 2024. There are plans to export e:Ns to other markets, beginning with Europe in 2023.
Honda sold 1.56 million new vehicles in China last year, down 4% on the year. Conventional cars and hybrids made up most of that, with EVs accounting for only about 10,000. But Honda is now targeting an increase in EV sales in China to 800,000 vehicles by 2030. And reaching that goal will depend on the success of the e:N range of vehicles.