Honda unveils its autonomous vehicle strategy

Although lagging slightly behind rivals, the company has earmarked a record $6.84 billion for R&D purposes and has acknowledged that producing smart cars is central to its survival as a car manufacturing company.

Honda Motor Co has now spelled out its autonomous vehicle development strategy with which it will take on rivals for the first time.

While unveiling its Vision 2030 plan, the Japanese carmaker disclosed that it plans on bringing autonomous cars on city streets by 2025. As part of this roadmap, Honda will boost coordination between its R&D, procurement and manufacturing departments to keep costs down.

This is the first time the company has admitted that it must look beyond conventional vehicles to survive in an industry which is rapidly moving into electric and self-driving cars.

It has revealed that it plans on bringing a self-driving vehicle to the market by 2020, which puts its progress slightly behind rivals, such as BMW.

“We’re going to place utmost priority on electrification and advanced safety technologies going forward,” said Takahiro Hachigo, Honda’s CEO.

The company stated developing new technologies, including artificial intelligence, robotics and energy solutions would be its key priorities in the coming years.

In fact, late last year, Honda had established a division solely for developing electric vehicles (EVs) as part of its efforts to lower emission levels. It plans on introducing EVs, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) so that they account for nearly two-thirds, up from their current 5%, of its line-up by 2030.

By 2025, Honda plans on coming out with “level 4” standard vehicles – which have complete automated driving functions and can drive themselves on city roads and highways under most situations.

Earlier, BMW had said it would launch a fully autonomous car by 2021.

Ford Motor Co is also slated to introduce a vehicle with similar capabilities, for ride sharing purposes, by 2021.

Nissan plans on launching a self-driving car by 2020.

As of March 31, Honda has earmarked a record $6.84 billion for R&D.

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