Honda will be playing catchup when it comes to all-electric vehicles; the first offering is not due until 2024. To keep up our interest in the interim, the automaker has released a sketch of the exterior of the Honda Prologue electric midsize SUV that will lead its electric charge. The Prologue was developed with General Motors and will use the same BEV3 electric vehicle architecture as the similarly sized 2023 Cadillac Lyriq, as well as Buick and Chevy EVs in the midsize crossover segment. The Prologue will also use GM’s Ultium battery management system and will be manufactured at a GM plant.
But the top hat is all Honda, designed and developed at the Honda Design Studio in the Los Angeles, in collaboration with the design team in Japan. From the sketch we see the look is sleek, clean, and simple, with flush door handles to help with aerodynamics. The crossover has a long wheelbase, short overhang, and planted stance to suggest capability.
Honda execs say the front fascia draws from the adorable Honda e, a tiny EV not available in North America, but any resemblance is faint. The Prologue has a traditional look to it, as opposed to some of the matrix design and dynamic swaths of LED lighting being sported by some new EVs. The idea was to make the Prologue look a bit rugged and fit in with the conventional SUVs in the Honda showroom.
Prologue Part of Honda Trio of Midsize SUVs
The Prologue joins the three-row Honda Pilot and the smaller two-row Honda Passport as a trio of midsize SUVs offering three distinct choices, says Mamadou Diallo, vice president of Auto Sales for American Honda Motor Company.
Honda sold more than 143,000 Pilots and more than 53,000 Passports in the U.S. in 2021. The automaker expects to sell 60,000 Prologues in North America in 2024 and increase that to 70,000 units in 2025. Honda EV sales are projected to reach almost 300,000 North America sales in 2026 and climb to half a million by 2030, and Honda has said it will introduce 30 new EV models globally by 2030, at which point it will be producing 2 million electric vehicles annually. The Acura brand, which is set to also get a GM-based crossover model, will lead the automaker’s electrification business.
2024 Honda Prologue Rollout
The first foray is the Prologue, followed shortly after by an electric luxury performance SUV for Acura, co-developed with GM. Sales will start in California and the roughly 15 other Zero Emission Vehicle states expected to be in place by 2027, as well as some non-ZEV states such as Florida and Texas before eventually rolling out, strategically, across the country. The plan for a charging infrastructure has not yet been disclosed; Honda says it is working with dealers on the number and type of charging stations dealers will need to support sales, as well as tools and equipment for servicing EVs.
Dealers will be offered a new, smaller-footprint facility design that reflects the need to carry less inventory in the future. It offers more flexible space for a future with expanded digital retailing, off-site delivery, and the need for less service area with EVs. The new look is voluntary, not a mandate dealers must adopt.
Step Two: Vehicles from the Honda e-Architecture
The Prologue and Acura EV crossover are the first step in Honda’s electrification plan. They will be followed by a family of vehicles that Honda will develop and build in North America based on the new in-house Honda e-Architecture. The first of these vehicles is due in 2026. They are all Honda—no GM platforms or Ultium, and the e-Architecture will be used by both the Honda and Acura brands. Honda said it’s also apparent it needs to make its own batteries in the future.
We can expect a mix of new nameplates, like Prologue, as well as battery-electric versions of the current lineup of familiar Honda models. Diallo says none of the existing models have been ruled out to go EV, which means we might be able to look forward to an electric Ridgeline pickup truck from Honda in the future. And Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe has said there are two electrified sports cars in the mix, but Diallo won’t confirm if one of them is the NSX.
Step Three: Small Affordable EVs Developed With GM
The third phase is the 2027 launch of the first in a new series of affordable electric compact crossovers based on a new vehicle architecture co-developed with GM and Ultium-based. It is a collaboration by the two automakers to drive down the cost of electrification and make EV ownership possible for a greater number of customers.
Yes, Honda will be late to the all-EV party. In the interim, Honda plans to put a lot of hybrids on the road with electric motors added to three high-volume vehicles. There will be a new CR-V Hybrid this year and a new Honda Accord Hybrid next year. A Civic hybrid is also in the works, and the HR-V also comes as a hybrid. Diallo expects hybrids to grow to account for half of total sales, and these buyers will be some of Honda’s first BEV customers.
As for vehicles with regular combustion engines, Honda has introduced a new Pilot and HR-V, while Acura will start selling the new Integra next month, a “gateway vehicle” to bring new customers to the brand. The first few months of Integra production are already sold out, Diallo says. Most of them were ordered with the six-speed manual transmission. Honda, like most of the industry grappling with supply shortages including the semiconductor chip shortage, continues to experience historic low inventories. Diallo expects single-digit days’ supply to continue through to next year. More than half of CR-Vs and Civics are sold before they hit the lot, he said.