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Honda executive explains company's EV transformation in rare interview: 'Entering into the second founding of our company'

"Our goal is to be a company that society wants to exist."

"Our goal is to be a company that society wants to exist."

Photo Credit: Honda

For Honda, the transition to EVs is nothing less than a revolution 75 years after the company's founding. 

In a rare interview about its strategy, James Reeves, the company's director of sustainability strategy for North America, described Honda's EV plan to The Cool Down as "entering into the second founding of our company — a once-in-100-year transformation." 

The plan is simple yet incredibly bold: "We are the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines, and yet we're moving away [from that] to 100% EV," Reeves said. "The goals we're setting for 2050 are to have zero impact on the environment and zero traffic fatalities involving a Honda vehicle." 

Although Honda had record sales for its hybrid EVs last year, including the top-selling CR-V model, it wasn't until just this year that the company launched its first fully electric EV widely available in the U.S., the Honda Prologue. The plan is to reach 40% EV sales and release seven new EV models by 2030.

Here's what Reeves had to say about Honda's unique culture, which is shifting a 75-year-old company toward a new future. 

0️⃣ The 0 Series 

Honda's upcoming EV fleet, called the 0 Series, looks decidedly futuristic — especially the "Space-Hub" and "Saloon" (coming in 2026), which the company previewed at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

"We wanted to rethink EVs themselves — what if we just started from scratch?" Reeves explained. "That's one of the references of the 0 Series: Let's start from zero. It's also a reference to our environmental goal of zero impact on the environment, and we've infused that into our design principles." 

Honda's goal, Reeves said, is to create a vehicle that is really fun to drive but is also "almost like a part of you — an expression of you." 

"If you've ever been in an EV and you've experienced linear acceleration where you go from 0 to 60 without changing gears, it's an absolute thrill," he said. "I hope that as we see EVs become more and more part of how consumers look to get around and experience that freedom of mobility, that we also don't lose sight that this is just an amazing product."

🛑 Safety first 

The second part of Honda's sustainability mission — to have zero traffic fatalities — is a reminder that "Honda has, for decades, put safety first."

Reeves told us Honda aims to reach that goal in a variety of ways, mainly through technology and research, but also, Reeves said, through culture.

"It sounds a little bit like a cliché, but it's really true — when you think about our company, our culture, our products themselves, it's something that they're known for," he said. "I've even heard stories of someone in one of our factories, and she said that, prior to a vehicle going off the line, she will actually stand there and put her hands on the hood and actually say a prayer for the future owner of that vehicle and pray for their safety."

♻️ Upcycling your … Honda? 

Honda's culture is rooted in its Japanese ownership, including the value of minimizing or eliminating waste. When it comes to cars, that includes a vision to actually "upcycle" old Hondas.

"Imagine taking an old Honda and being able to use every single solitary part to create a new Honda — everything from the aluminum to the cloth seats to the wires within the vehicle," Reeves said.  

While the reverse logistics are still a work in progress, Reeves said that "you can imagine a situation where you could trade in your vehicle, as you buy a new Honda, and then that vehicle can go from the dealer to … a disassembly plant."

Another example: When the white "lab coat" uniforms worn by every worker — from the C-suite down to the factory floor — reach their end of life, they're turned into insulation "that goes into all seven of our lines on the Acura brand, and in many of the Honda brands," Reeves noted.

🔮 A look into the future

Reeves told TCD he's excited about new battery technologies that will charge faster and better — as well as Honda's hydrogen business unit, which is "looking at fuel cells for vehicles and personal mobility" in addition to construction equipment and commercial vehicles. 

Honda is also partnering with six other automakers to install 30,000 high-speed EV charging units across the country. Reeves said the company's spirit of collaboration will "help our customers and help society achieve the environmental goals that we need." 

💚 The Honda philosophy: "the three joys"

Part of what makes Honda unique, Reeves explained, is a grounding in the "Honda philosophy":  "It's everything from what we call the 'three joys' — the joy of buying, selling, and creating," he said. "Creating is definitely a big part of Honda. It's finding problems to solve and figuring out solutions, but also it's also kind of akin to a vision statement.

"Our goal is to be a company that society wants to exist," he said. "That's something that I just haven't heard before, before coming to Honda. But also what I hadn't seen was how much it guides decisions. There's not a week that goes by that I don't hear that sentence."

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