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‘Honda and Volkswagen disagree on whether new cars should be global or regional’

While Honda is looking to reduce its global line-up, Volkswagen believes different car designs are needed for each region

Opinion - Honda SpaceHub

The Consumer Electronics Show is always a good event, especially with an increasing number of car makers using it to make big announcements.

What always amuses me is how many of them proudly show off their new tech, proclaiming it as a world first, without realising their rivals in the next hall are showing off exactly the same thing!

For example, coming to a car near you very soon is greater AI integration, often in the form of ChatGPT. It’s supposedly going to make it easier to talk to your car, although judging by my demo in the next-generation Volkswagen Golf it still needs some work.

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However, car makers don’t agree on everything, as was clear with Volkswagen and Honda. VW’s tech boss Kai Grünitz told me, “In the past we tried to develop a kind of world car suitable for every region – take a look at the ID.4. But the last years have shown that this won’t work any more. I think you can have the same electronic architecture in the background, but the design, the way our customers react with the car will be different. And actually we have also learned that it’s not much more expensive to design different cars as long as you use the same modules in a way that the customer doesn’t see it.”

On the other side of the show (and coin), Honda was unveiling its stunning new global 0 Series EVs, a shift in strategy from its current regional line-ups. So who’s right? I asked Honda’s CEO, Toshihiro Mibe.

“We are thinking that the value of the business will change and we need to have a number of models to achieve volume,” he told me. “In an EV world we have to reduce the number of platforms. Going global is the most efficient for EVs. Let’s talk about Tesla – four models globally. We agree with that.”

The desire for Far Eastern buyers to have more screens, tech and shiny gadgets doesn’t necessarily chime with western buyers. Let’s see if tastes converge.

Click here to read more from this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas...

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