Last week, the second-generation Honda/Acura NSX got retired, with the 350th example of the Type-S swansong for the hybrid supercar having rolled off the production line at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio. And while Honda has confirmed there will be a new NSX, which is expected to move to an all-electric setup, the rumor mill talks about this arriving towards the end of the decade.
Back in April this year, Honda presented a massive electrification plan aimed at pushing the carmaker past the 2 million EV annual sales mark by 2030. And, among the 30 or so battery-powered models we’ll get by the end of the decade, the carmaker will introduce two sports cars.
As showcased in the official teaser at the end of the gallery below, the one on the left appears as a sports car, while the one on the right should fall into the supercar segment. And it hasn’t taken much for enthusiasts to expect the former to bring back the Prelude and the latter to stand for the next chapter in the NSX book.
As far as the official details go, Honda simply mentioned these offerings will be “electrified”. But that can mean anything from a hybrid like the now-sleeping Gen II NSX to a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric offering.
Why the third-generation NSX will probably be all-electric
However, if we take a look at the history of the NSX, it all seems to point out an EV nature for the third-generation model. Besides, the switch battery power also seems to be the hint dropped by Acura Vice President and Brand Officer Jon Ikeda, who confirmed there will be a new NSX during a 2021 interview for The Drive.
“If you notice, we make an NSX when there’s something we want to say. The first-gen was gas. Second-gen was a hybrid. There’s gonna be another one,” Ikeda said, albeit without being more specific.
The new NSX can’t simply be a speed devil pushing a big nose-mounted Honda or Acura badge through the air at 200 mph. Instead, it needs to continue the mission of its predecessors, namely put the company in the first line of the revolution going on in the car industry at a certain time.
The original NSX, which was built between 1990 and 2005, became the world’s first “everyday” supercar. It mixed tons of analog feedback and a plethora of assets complimenting its mid-engined layout and sweet N/A V6 with legendary reliability and a much more affordable nature compared to the Italian exotics it rivaled (can you believe this example seems abandoned in the middle of Tokyo?).
As a new car, the NSX, which came to the US, its primary market, with an Acura badge, wasn’t exactly a hot seller. Despite all its qualities, people still felt they wanted a more special badge for the money. However, with analog JDM performance cars experiencing a massive comeback on the “used” vehicle market, prices for the first-gen NSX have been constantly rising for about a decade now-and here’s an eccentric aiming to convert a 1994 Acura NSX to electric power.
Having entered production in 2016, the second-gen NSX once again took the crown from the elites and shared it with a much larger audience. Back then, the Holy trinity of hybrid hypercars (LaFerrari, P1, and 918 Spyder) was sending jaws to the floor with gas-electric powertrains. Well, the NSX mixed a mid-mounted twin-turbo V6 with three electric motors and sophisticated AWD for a fraction of those hypercars’ cost.
And, from the driving position to more visual clues, there were a lot of throwbacks to the OG. Alas, the Japanese gas-electric sports car fell short of rivals like the Porsche 911 and the Nissan GT-R in terms of both straight-line and track performance—yes, even the NSX Type S mentioned in the intro got beaten. And, as you might’ve guessed by now, this didn’t exactly help with finding homes for the machine.
And while the said stopwatch differences were small, the resistance to electrification, which was still strong last decade, also contributed to the below-expectations sales of the model.
Honda is investing in solid-state batteries
Looking past the automotive world where Honda’s core business involves making the Civic and the mandatory crossovers these days, the company is the world’s largest power unit producer—it covers a never-ending list of applications, from lawnmowers to private jets and outboard motors.
And while Honda has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, the broad combustion engine activities mentioned above could explain why its EV efforts have been limited so far. However, the company is investing in what should be the next big thing in EV technology.
We’re referring to solid-state batteries (SSBs)—compared to today’s liquid-electrolyte batteries, the new tech aims to seriously boost range and cut charging times. Even protection against fires should be increased, albeit with this depending on the exact technical solution employed. For one, it appears that while SSBs may be more resistant to fires, they can generate higher temperatures when short-circuited, which could make a potential fire resulting from this more difficult to extinguish—this is detailed in a study that Science Direct published earlier this year.
However, solid-state batteries won’t arrive until the second part of the decade, with Honda having stated that it’s looking to introduce the first vehicles relying on the tech no sooner than 2028. Meanwhile, the company is set to launch the 2024 Prologue, its first electric SUV, using GM’s Ultium battery architecture.
Next-gen NSX rendering
To ease the wait, we’ve brought along a rendering of a third-generation NSX put together by independent artist Ulises Morales Mendoza.
A student at Italy’s IIAD (Istituto d’Arte Applicata e Design), Ulises mixes heritage elements like the taillights and the greenhouse, which harken back to the original NSX, with futuristic bits that perfectly set up the creation for the 2028+ timeline.
From certain angles, we feel there’s a bit of Kia DNA in here too, but that’s probably just the directional wheel design.
The artist has also taken practicality into account, inviting us to take a delicious peek into this digital third-generation NSX’s generous frunk (hey, we didn’t know that stands for fruit-full trunk).
Now, electric motors and floor-mounted batteries mean cars no longer have to stick to the body style conventions we’re used to. However, at least for the short-term future when people need their continuity and brands want their iconic names to live on, Honda maintaining the classic mid-engine proportions for the NSX sound probable.
Oh, and if Porsche can have its “turbo” on the Taycan, why couldn’t Honda find a way to mix VTEC and batteries?