At CES on Tuesday, Honda said it’s bringing a brand-new line of electric cars to the U.S. in 2026—vehicles that will debut the automaker’s next-generation, in-house EV tech. Honda’s announcement was heavy on sweeping ideas and bold design, but light on specifics.
But we learned at least one cool and concrete detail on the show floor: The flagship, first model in the Honda 0 series will come equipped with steer-by-wire technology, a top Honda executive told InsideEVs.
That means there won’t be a mechanical connection between the sedan’s steering wheel and its front wheels like there is in just about every car on the road. A steer-by-wire system eliminates that physical link and instead tells the front wheels what to do electronically based on a driver’s steering inputs. It may sound like a minor update, but the tech can have a profound impact on a vehicle’s styling and functionality, Mitsuru Kariya, the head of Honda’s automobile electrification strategy unit, said.
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Steer-by-wire technology replaces the mechanical connection between a car’s steering wheel and its front wheels with a purely electronic one. Honda is one of just a few automakers to embrace the tech, after Tesla and Lexus.
“Steer-by-wire allows us to have more freedom in the vehicle packaging, which means that we also have more freedom in the shape of the vehicle,” Kariya said through a translator.
A traditional steering setup has strict limitations that dictate where certain components need to go, Kariya said. Introducing steer-by-wire will allow Honda to create more room for passengers to stretch out and shorten a vehicle’s front end, he said.
EVs already allow for more design flexibility than their internal combustion predecessors. Since electric powertrains are far simpler and more compact than engines, gas tanks and transmissions, battery-powered cars can serve up flat floors, extra cargo space (under the hood, for example) and outside-the-box exterior styling. Steer-by-wire could help automakers get even more crafty with their designs, but it remains a rarity. Besides the aging Infiniti Q50 and Q60, today, there’s only one vehicle on sale in America that uses the tech: Tesla’s outlandish Cybertruck pickup. (Lexus also plans to introduce it to the U.S. soon on the electric RZ, along with a fairly outlandish yoke steering wheel of its own; indeed, Toyota also has big plans for this tech in the future much as Honda does)
In the Cybertruck and Toyota’s system, steer-by-wire allows for different steering behavior at different speeds. In a parking lot, for example, turning the Cybertruck’s wheel slightly will produce a sharper turn than it would during high-speed highway driving. That kind of variable steering ratio is pretty much non-negotiable for implementing a rectangular yoke (which the Cybertruck has) without driving people nuts—which Tesla’s other yoke-equipped cars do because they’re cumbersome to turn. Presumably, Honda’s cars will offer the same capability.
Honda’s futuristic Saloon concept car, revealed on Tuesday, previews what its upcoming sedan will look and feel like. The long, low and wide vehicle features a smooth, rounded shape, short hood and spacious interior. And, yes, steer-by-wire and an airplane-style yoke. Overall, it better resembles a computer mouse than a conventional sedan. The finished product will most likely lose some of the Saloon’s wackiest traits. But Honda’s CEO said it will be “based very close” on the concept.
Honda has been a bit more sluggish to electrify its business than some rivals, but it has big plans on that front, including the Honda 0 series and a joint venture to build high-tech cars with Sony. In North America, the carmaker aims to stop selling gas-powered vehicles by 2040.