Honda’s First Electric SUV
Honda was one of the pioneers in hybrid vehicles – in fact, the original Honda Insight was the first hybrid sold in the U.S., beating the well-known Toyota Prius to market by a few weeks. Honda is also a brand well-known for its economical, fuel-efficient engines and low running costs, so it’s a bit surprising that the company has taken so long to show up to the EV party. But with the new Prologue SUV, Honda will be showing up in a big way.
Big, not just in terms of importance, but big in terms of physical size as well. Honda will be firing its first battery-electric SUV straight at the heart of the family SUV market. Large, well-equipped, and adventure-ready, the Prologue SUV is designed to satisfy everyday driving needs as well as weekend getaways.
Two major things stand out about the Prologue: its design, and the fact that it’s the product of a new collaboration between Honda and General Motors.
Designed in Virtual Reality
The Prologue will be the first Honda model designed mostly through virtual reality visualization technology. Designed through the height of the global COVID pandemic, designers at the Honda design studio in Los Angeles used virtual reality to work with Honda design and development team members in Japan, with a lot less sketching and clay modelling than is typical for such a vehicle. The result is not only a fresh and modern design – but a vehicle that will reach the market faster thanks to digital collaboration.
The exterior styling of the Prologue is clean and simple, and incorporates the friendly face of the Honda E electric city car sold in other parts of the world. From the side, it has a very long wheelbase with short overhangs, meaning lots of interior room. The stance is wide and strong, and chunky tires suggest plenty of off-road capability. It looks like it would be comfortable to drive on-road as well as off-road – and will also look right at home in Honda showrooms alongside vehicles like the Pilot, Passport, and CR-V. Honda calls the look “neo-rugged.”
With every ounce of wind resistance having an effect on electric range, the Honda design team focused closely on aerodynamics, finessing the body with simple, smooth surfaces and fewer lines to improve range as well as reduce cabin noise – something very important for EV customers, as the absence of engine sounds amplify wind noise and other sounds entering the cabin.
Co-Developed with GM; the First of 30 EVs
The Prologue has been co-developed with General Motors as part of a plan announced in 2020 to co-develop electric vehicles and bring them to market faster. The process has worked very efficiently, and the GM Ultium architecture and batteries, which will debut in the Cadillac Lyriq, are state of the art.
Prologue is the first step of Honda’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – and introduce 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2030, with a total annual volume of two million units. In addition to the shared Ultium architecture with GM, the company is developing its own dedicated “e:Architecture,” which it will introduce in 2026, and in 2027, a whole range of new affordable EVs will follow. By 2030, Honda expects to be selling nearly half a million EVs in North America.
Upgrading the Dealer Network
Honda also knows that in order to successfully sell and service EVs, that its dealer network will need to be upgraded as well. It is working closely with its dealers to help them take care of customers in an electric world. A new dealership facility design will be gradually rolled-out, providing dealers with more modular and flexible spaces to reflect the new ways customers will shop for and purchase vehicles – including having lower levels of inventory on site. Charging stations will be added, and upgraded. And dealers will upgrade their tools and equipment to service electric vehicles seamlessly.
We’re excited to see the new Honda Prologue in 2024 – and all of the other Honda EVs that will follow in its wake.