Honda is digging its heels into Silicon Valley

HondaSVBryan Logan/Business InsiderA view of the signage outside Honda’s Silicon Valley research and development facility in Mountain View, CA.

Honda is reinforcing its commitment to next-generation automotive technology by planting its feet firmly in Silicon Valley.

The automaker celebrated the opening of its beefed-up research and development facility in Mountain View, CA Thurday, where it will explore the kinds of technologies that are changing the way we drive and interact with our vehicles.

There is no denying how important Silicon Valley has become to the automotive industry.

“All our competitors are touting their operations here, and that is a good thing,” said Honda R&D president Frank Paluch.

You can thank Tesla Motors, Google, and Apple — all headquartered in the tech capital of the world — for that.

As Tesla develops electric car technology, Google advances toward self-driving cars, and Apple works on an as-yet unannounced car project, Honda is among several legacy automakers booting up in Silicon Valley. Nissan, Ford, Mercedes, Volkswagen, BMW, General Motors and Toyota also have facilities here.

Honda’s new R&D hub will be host to Honda’s Xcelerator initiative, which will provide “resources to breakthrough technology innovators,” Honda says. It’s part of the company’s effort to “rapidly develop prototypes with the potential to transform the automotive experience.”

2016 Honda AccordHondaA view of the refreshed 2016 Honda Accord.

Honda also used the event to introduce the first car in its lineup to feature both Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto — the newly refreshed, 2016 Accord.

It’s appropriate that the Accord would be the first model to get the dual interface upgrade, as it has been one of the most popular family sedans for at least the past two decades.

For Honda, this is just the beginning. Company officials say they’re focused on helping Silicon Valley innovators develop future technology under its Xcelerator umbrella. The program offers funding and “Honda mentors” for proof-of-concept prototyping, and for some, an opportunity to pitch new ideas to Honda’s global businesses.

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