Honda Drops Resistance to Outside Tech

Honda Motor Co., struggling with the monumental costs of technologies to electrify, connect and roboticize its vehicles, is giving up its go-it-alone heritage.

CEO Takahiro Hachigo tells The Wall Street Journal that Honda now wants to work with suppliers who can offer the best technology, regardless of where they come from.

The upswing in outsourcing is a major shift in corporate philosophy for the fiercely entrepreneurial company, whose founder declared 50 years ago, “We refuse to depend on anyone else.”

Now, says Hachigo, “It is inefficient for Honda to do everything ourselves.” He emphasizes that Honda remains uninterested in merging with another carmaker. But Hachigo tells the Journal that the company can maintain its independence while using components from sources outside the company—sometimes in the form of off-the-shelf parts—to create its vehicles.

Thus Honda, which prides itself for its innovative and efficient powertrains, will rely on a joint venture with Hitachi Ltd. to supply electric motors for hybrid and all-electric Honda cars beginning in 2021.

The carmaker also is turning to Germany’s Robert Bosch for sensors, General Motors for batteries and China’s Baidu and SenseTime for mapping technologies and camera software, respectively.