Honda’s urban EV edges closer to production
In typical concept car fashion, there was a lot of excitement when Honda unveiled its Urban EV show car in 2017. The industry and public fell in love with the looks and the battery-powered proposition, but were equally wary that any kind of production version might be a very different machine.
Fast forward two years, and the pleas from all corners of the world to the Japanese manufacturer had paid off. The 2019 Geneva International Motor Show saw the introduction of the Honda e Prototype—essentially a production version of the original small car concept.
In truth—unlike a lot of concepts—not much has changed, but upgrades and responses to an evolving automotive sector have been taken into consideration. Honda described the car in Switzerland as being designed to meet the needs of the modern lifestyle, combining unique design, advanced functionality, and engaging driving dynamics. The vehicle delivers a package designed for the urban environment.
In a bid to get very clean, smooth lines on the car’s exterior, Mazda has followed in the footsteps of other manufacturers by removing rear view mirrors and replacing them with a camera system, linked to screens on the interior for driver and passenger awareness.
There are also door handles that stay flush to the side of the car, popping out only when required, and stepless A-pillars. On the inside, there is a two-screen setup and connected infotainment system, all housed within an environment described by Honda as a relaxing and modern minimalist lounge-style passenger cabin that uses tactile, contemporary materials.
Having been one of the pioneering vehicle manufacturers when hybrids began to be popular in the early 2000s, Honda has built up a fair amount of knowledge when it comes to the essential elements of alternative-powered vehicles. However, the e Prototype is the first Honda that sits on a dedicated EV platform. Designed specifically for town and city driving, the new Honda boasts a range of over 200 km (124 mi) as well as a fast-charge functionality, where an 80% battery charge can be achieved in 30 min. Specifics on the powertrain (and confirmation of the model name) were not disclosed at the show, but Honda did confirm that there would be one single electric motor driving the rear wheels.
The e Prototype is the first car in a product offensive that will see Honda offer total electrification in its range by 2025. Tom Gardener, the region’s senior VP for Europe, also stated that the company will have “a portfolio of energy-management systems to create additional value for power system operators and EV customers alike.” To help achieve the goals of this portfolio, Gardener revealed Honda had been working with EVTEC to develop bi-directional Honda Power Manager technology, which is compatible with BEVs such as the e Prototype.
He went on to detail new tie-ups with Moixa, which specializes in resource aggregator technology, to allow customers to benefit from sharing the control and capacity of their EV battery, and Ubitricity, a charging solutions supplier.
Order books for the final production version of the car will be opening later in 2019, with Honda claiming it has already dealt with 15,000 registrations of interest.