Honda four-seat electric city car, previewed by early Urban EV concept, to command added-value appeal, like an Apple product

The production version of the Honda e prototype electric city car will go on sale in Europe later this year – and the firm believes the car’s retro design will give it an Apple-style appeal to customers. 

The four-seater, displayed at the Geneva motor show, is “95% production ready”, according to the firm. It maintains the styling of the Urban EV Concept unveiled at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, albeit with the addition of an extra set of doors. While Honda has yet to reveal full technical details of the car, its designers told Autocar at the Geneva show that it would offer "more than" 98bhp and 221lb ft of torque.

Honda said more than 15,000 people have already expressed interest in the machine in Europe. While pricing has yet to be set, Autocar understands the firm is aiming for a figure around £30,000.

Project manager Kohei Hitomi said the machine had been the subject of an internal “battle” over whether to put it into production, with the positive reaction to the concept being a key factor in it gaining approval. 

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Honda has yet to confirm full technical details of the car, which is slightly shorter than a Jazz and around 100mm taller than a Mini, but has said it will likely have an official range of around 125 miles, with fast-charging capacity to reach 80% charge in 30 minutes. 

The e prototype is built on a new platform designed for A- and B-segment electric cars, with underfloor batteries produced by Panasonic that are similar to those used in the US market Accord plug-in hybrid. The rear-mounted electric motor drives the rear wheels, which employ torque vectoring to give a smoother response and improved handling in tight corners. 

Although the e prototype’s range is substantially lower than that offered by rival EVs such as the 282-mile Kia e-Niro or BMW i3, which offers 193 miles, Hitomi said it was necessary to keep the batteries small to fulfil its city-car role. 

“We believe the range is sufficient for this segment of car,” said Hitomi. “Some potential customers might not be satisfied, but when you think about bigger range and a bigger battery, it has drawbacks in terms of packaging. It’s a balance.” 

The e prototype features cameras instead of rear-view mirrors, which help improve aerodynamic efficiency. There are also flush door handles and the charging port is mounted centrally in the bonnet. 

The cockpit is dominated by two 12in touchscreens, built into a dashboard finished with a wood-effect trim. The seats – including a two-seat bench in the rear – are covered in polyester, which, as with the wood effect, is designed to make the interior feel like a living room. 

The e prototype will be built in Japan and go on sale in selected European markets in late 2019, with others following in 2020. It will also be sold in Japan. 

The firm has yet to set pricing. Hitomi said it is “important” the car is affordable but he added: “A low price is not always a guarantee of success. When you look at Apple products, they are not cheap, but everyone wants to have them because of their added value. We believe it is the same for the electric vehicle.”

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Comments
23

27 February 2019

So less than a hundred in the real world.  This would be fine if it comes in at under £21k, if not, it's gonna look horrendous value for money compared Renault Zoe and just end up a limited edition fashion item.  Having said that even if it comes in at SMART EQ money sales will be poor in the UK and maybe Honda's only intention was a limited production BEV.

Remember I've always been an BEV fan so it pains me to write this.  

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

27 February 2019

Still looks great. We'll be the judge of that price increase thing, Honda.

Needs to be affordable to succed

JMax

27 February 2019

... is horrible. I love the way the car looks, but that would be a huge deal breaker for me. That would make it only slightly better than a two year old, much smaller, Smart ForTwo.

 

Honda has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to EVs.

 

 

27 February 2019

 

Going to start with the details; why the need for door cameras: cost increase!Why the need for front flush door handles if you slap corner handles for the rear doors, why not same design all round: cost increase!Why the need for two tone paints: cost increase!

Front plug receptacle, on top of the bonnet, great for a CHAdeMO plug, not so great reallyfor a CCS or Type 2 22kW plugs, if ever compatible for usage on this car: short sighted!

We then should expect an internal DC charger of about 50kW to allow a 30 min chargefor the expected 30kWh battery?

Overall, clean exterior design (very far from the usual 'very busy theme' employed at Honda) and interesting interior, spoilt by several 'plugs under flaps' and other examples of not so clean designs, like the steering wheel with an extremely small and bulbous airbag case that doesn't follow the general design note. No great communication around the project team, that is.

How much money could had been better spent elsewhere to give a better product, It will be a feat getting all that at below current Smart EQ  price points, but this spec might find hard to compete against other 5 door cars, new 208, new Zoe, new Corsa, just to name a few.

MrJ

27 February 2019

I loved the Golf-like Honda electric, but this new one has lost the taut lines and oomph.

But at least it's lost the over-busy styling of other Hondas.

As for the range, OK as a shopping trolley I guess, but not much good otherwise.

27 February 2019
MrJ wrote:

I loved the Golf-like Honda electric, but this new one has lost the taut lines and oomph.

Its not a patch on the concept which reminded me of the original Civic. But moving that B-pillar forward was always going to make it look worse, just as it does with a 5-door MINI. I'm disappointed.

MrJ

27 February 2019

I loved the Golf-like Honda electric, but this new one has lost the taut lines and oomph.

But at least it's lost the over-busy styling of other Hondas.

As for the range, OK as a shopping trolley I guess, but not much good otherwise.

27 February 2019

Five years ago 125 miles would have sounded reasonable but not now, and especially not if 'Apple inspired' means the price too. Trouble for them is that Peugeot claims 211 miles for the new 208 electric that isn't much bigger, probably, and looks almost as cool. You need a bit of 'headroom' in range too to allow for losses over the life of the car, and to allow for the fact that realistically you can never drive more than about 80% of your maximum range. Disappointing.

27 February 2019
...leaking their plant closures to the press before their workers found out.

Sorry. This Honda owner will never buy another Honda no matter how cute....

I am actually embarresed to be seen driving a Honda after this fiasco.

Steam cars are due a revival.

27 February 2019

125 mile range? Rather like making a real car with a 2 and a half gallon petrol tank, except its much easier to refill with petrol.

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