Honda Is the Latest to Join the Band of Manufacturers Threatening to Build a “Tesla Killer”

Honda seems to be finding its sporty vein once again, with the new Civic Type-R causing upset on the Nurburgring, and the NSX offering some more than decent performance figures.
Honda CR-Z prototype at Pikes Peak 1 photo
Photo: Honda
And, to be honest, it wasn't a moment too soon as we were actually starting to wonder whether Honda was ever going to rise back to its former glory. Well, it seems like the first step was the hardest, as now Honda is threatening with an all-electric high-end vehicle to compete with Tesla’s Model S.

This isn’t coming out of the blue, since Honda did compete in the Pikes Peak mountain climb this year with a modified CR-Z prototype. The car was developed by a group of young engineers and was only meant as an exercise to see how far the existent technology could be pushed at the moment.

The Pikes Peak CR-Z used four electric motors for propulsion not much different from the ones powering NSX’s two front wheels. This all-wheel-drive system was baptized SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive) and worked in conjunction with Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS), giving the CR-Z enhanced handling characteristics.

The project proved successful enough to make Honda consider a production vehicle using the same technical layout. In order to hold water and justify the high price such a system would bring with itself, this possible future Honda model would have to either be a large and luxurious vehicle not unlike the Model S, or present itself as a very powerful and exclusive sports car.

The fact that Honda doesn’t have that many EV building credentials isn’t the main problem here, but rather that it lacks tradition in either of the two classes listed above. It could use the Accord as a starting point, but asking a large sum of money for something based on a mainstream sedan is a tricky strategy that could easily backfire.

That leaves Honda with two options: the first is to modify the NSX and use the new car solely as an image vector, as sales certainly wouldn’t be profitable. The second involves building the car around a new platform, which pretty much raises the same issue of profitability, or rather the lack of it.

Either way, this isn’t a short-term plan for Honda, so we’re still a few years away from seeing any materialization of the plans. But the bottom line is that electric all-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering sounds like tons of fun, so we should all be cheering for Honda.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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