Honda Wants to Build Electric Planes, Reusable Rockets, and Conquer the ‘4th Dimension’

Honda, a corporation that makes cars, motorcycles, airplane engines and the like, has released a plan to build a lot more stuff that it calls “initiatives in new areas.” That is a modest way of describing a press release with phrases like “Challenges on the lunar surface” and “reusable small rocket” and “make mobility in the skies more accessible for people.” 

And it will do all this “with absolute safety and zero environmental impact.” Yes, Honda is a modest company with modest goals: sell cars and motorcycles at a reasonable price, and “expanding the potential of mobility into the 3rd dimension, then the 4th dimension which defies the constraints of time and space, and ultimately into outer space.”

Honda is hardly the only company to be talking up electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, with several other companies looking to make air taxis a thing. For its part, Honda recognizes these vehicles will not have sufficient range to serve as any more than glorified urban airport shuttles, so it plans to also equip models of this yet-to-be-constructed vehicle with a gas engine, too. The press release is unclear how this aligns with the pledge for “zero environmental impact.” Fortunately, the company has published this helpful graphic to clear things up:

A mobility ecosystem.

A mobility ecosystem. Screenshot: Honda

In addition to mere low altitude challenges, Honda, and this is a direct quote from the press release, including the bold emphasis, “began initiatives to strive for the expansion of human activities and development on the lunar surface.” Honda wants to use the water on the moon to create a circular renewable energy system using water electrolysis technologies and fuel cell systems. While this is indeed a thing some have already proposed, I feel the need to point out that the moon, according to NASA, has water  concentrations one-hundredth that of the Sahara Desert. So imagine someone saying they want to use all the water of the Saraha to create a renewable energy ecosystem involving an incredibly water-intensive process, and then multiply the skepticism you would have of that working out by a factor of 100.

By comparison, Honda’s reusable small rocket initiative is downright reasonable. They will simply build small reusable rockets to launch low-earth orbit satellites, something that SpaceX is essentially already doing, albeit not with “small” rockets. “For this challenge, Honda will strive to utilize control and guidance technologies Honda has amassed through the development of automated driving technologies,” the company states. A recent review of the company’s latest self-driving car project found the car worked “in most—but not yet all—conditions.”

This is a big, bold vision for a company that, thus far, has released one electric car, the Honda e, which is not even available for purchase in the U.S. It doesn’t have an electric car slated for release in this country until 2024, by which point it will have only six years remaining to fulfill its vision of reusable rockets filling the skies, electric vertical takeoff and landing ships traversing the globe, and ghostly robot hands massaging the scalps of prominent executives as they consider more technologies to leverage for the future of mobility. We cannot wait to see what they come up with next. 

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