Automotive

Hitachi and Honda team up for cheaper electric motors

Hitachi and Honda team up for ...
Honda and Hitachi are teaming up to lower the cost of electric vehicle manufacturing. The motor pictured is from Honda's NSX supercar
Honda and Hitachi are teaming up to lower the cost of electric vehicle manufacturing. The motor pictured is from Honda's NSX supercar
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Honda and Hitachi are teaming up to lower the cost of electric vehicle manufacturing. The motor pictured is from Honda's NSX supercar
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Honda and Hitachi are teaming up to lower the cost of electric vehicle manufacturing. The motor pictured is from Honda's NSX supercar

As electric cars become more common, manufacturers are battling to find new ways to improve their hardware and lower costs. Over at Honda, the desire to improve its battery-powered cars has led to a new partnership with Hitachi, which has a long history of building motors for electric vehicles.

Given the global push toward tighter emissions standards and the growing popularity of electric vehicles, both Honda and Hitachi are looking to lower the cost of mass producing motors. Should they be successful, the partnership could lead to cheaper electric cars for the masses – a situation where everyone wins. To make it happen, the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to generate a "technological synergy" between supplier and manufacturer designed to "strengthen their competitive advantage and business foundation for the motors at the core of an electric vehicle."

Although the project will initially be based in Japan, there are plans to expand the joint venture with manufacturing and sales operations in North America and China. The two companies will be working in tandem, but they won't be exclusive – Hitachi will keep working with other manufacturers, and Honda will continue to use motors it builds in-house in Japan in some of its cars.

All up, the joint venture will be worth ¥5 billion (US$44,750,000) with Hitachi shouldering 51 percent of the load. The new (unnamed) joint venture company will be formally be signed into action at the end of March 2017, with work set to begin in June.

This isn't the first time Honda has joined arms with another manufacturer or supplier for cheaper, more advanced alternative powertrains. Earlier this year, the Japanese giant and GM teamed up to develop lower-cost hydrogen fuel cells, although that US$85 million deal represents a more significant investment than the Hitachi tie-up.

Source: Honda

9 comments
watersworm
Good thing. But When will the price of batteries mow down ? That's a much more greater deal for the "popularity" electric vehicules !
jerryd
Since EV motors are already very cheap a $4/lb , 90-98% efficient, little more than materials costs, there is little to gain. They have been around 150+ yrs, it is a mature tech. Now had they went in on inverter, battery improvements there is a lot more to gain in lowering it's costs, weight, would be a far better use of the money.
ljaques
Lowering costs is great. Cheers! Once Tesla opens the Gigafactory, battery prices will plummet. https://www.tesla.com/gigafactory That might make off-grid solar installations skyrocket, too. It's all good!
Pres
However, a lot more work/innovation is needed in electric motors to go inside each wheel. New electronics will help with that.
VincentBrennan
It is a mistake to say that they should have used the money for batteries because it implies that is not happening. No where did the article say anything about batteries. That was not the subject. EVERYONE in that business already recognizes that batteries are the key to EV! I am quite sure that what they spend on battery development surmounts this motor spending by a very large amount. To think just because they spent this on motors means they have not been chasing better batteries is a mistake. No offense meant by this comment.
VincentBrennan
It is a mistake to say that they should have used the money for batteries because it implies that is not happening. No where did the article say anything about batteries. That was not the subject. EVERYONE in that business already recognizes that batteries are the key to EV! I am quite sure that what they spend on battery development surmounts this motor spending by a very large amount. To think just because they spent this on motors means they have not been chasing better batteries is a mistake. No offense meant by this comment.
TomFullery
The comments above (or is it below?) are on the money. Battery costs and battery energy density offer the biggest opportunities for improvements in coming years. Battery costs have been dropping at 8-10% per annum and the Tesla-Panasonic venture will only accelerate that fall. Many companies are working on the "next big thing" in battery chemistry while also squeezing more performance from lithium-ion. However, neither Honda nor Hitachi are daft. While electric motors are a very mature technology (they get free bus passes) there is still room to reduce weight and to improve the energy efficiency across the full rev range. In-wheel motors offer precise torque distribution to all driven wheels, and gives chassis and body designers more real estate to play with, but the main drawback is that they add to unsprung weight which buggers up the handling. So reducing mass there would be a win-win.
BrianK56
The auto makers in the US better get it in gear with their research or be left behind. EVs are the future.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think this is a good thing for battery electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. I think it will make it cost less green to go green.