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Honda announces strategic plan to develop autonomous cars for cities by 2025

Japanese car manufacturing colossus Honda has centered its long-term strategy on the development of autonomous vehicles and electric cars - with the carmaker announcing its intentions to deploy autonomous cars in major cities by 2025. Honda Motor Co made a series of disclosures during a press briefing in which it outlined in detail its mid-term 'Vision 2030' strategy.

Honda has revised its strategy in a bid to take on its rivals in the automotive industry and position itself as a leader in a sector which is moving rapidly towards the mass development and deployment of electric and self-driving cars. The Japanese company declared that it would boost coordination between R&D, procurement and manufacturing in order to reduce development costs as it conceded it now must look beyond conventional vehicles to survive.

Honda has previously disclosed its plans to develop an autonomous vehicle for highways by 2020, but its new target is to now produce city-capable self-driving cars on a mass level by 2025. Honda's CEO Takahiro Hachigo added that it was also placing more emphasis on electrification. He said: "We're going to place utmost priority on electrification and advanced safety technologies going forward.”

In addition to this, Honda claimed that other key priorities for the organization would be investment in the development of robotics, AI driven-services, energy solutions and other new driving technologies in what was a remarkably innovative strategic plan which was disclosed by Honda at the media briefing.

Honda has been a passionate advocate for reducing emissions for a number of years - and just last year created a new division tasked with the responsibility of developing electric vehicles for lower-emission gasoline hybrids, plug-in hybrids, EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) to account for two-thirds of its line-up by 2030, from about 5 percent now. By 2025, Honda plans to come up with cars with "level 4" standard automated driving functions, meaning they can drive themselves on highways and city roads under most situations.

In order to achieve such capabilities, Honda will require significant investment in AI in order to detect traffic movements, along with a battery of cameras and sensors to avoid accidents. Honda has already significantly increased spending in relation to R&D - investing a cool 750 billion yen in the last twelve months. However, it is out of necessity according to analysts as they point to rivals BMW declaring it will deploy a fully autonomous car by 2021, while Ford Motor Co has said it will introduce a vehicle with similar capabilities for ride-sharing purposes in the same year.