- The Honda e Prototype is a near-production version of the 2017 Urban EV concept.
- It rides on a new rear-wheel-drive electric platform and has a range of more than 124 miles.
- It will go into production later this year, with sales currently only planned for European markets.
UPDATE 5/8/19: Honda has announced that the official name for the production version of the e Prototype will be . . . The Honda e. A new teaser photo that was released alongside the announcement shows the car's badge and the edge of the taillight; the latter item looks identical to the Prototype's unit. That's a good thing. Honda also announced that the e has received "22,000 expressions of interest" in Europe, but doesn't say how many actual deposits have been put down (or if deposits are even open yet).
After stealing the 2017 Frankfurt auto show with its Urban EV concept, Honda is looking to do the same in early March at this year's Geneva auto show with the reveal of a near-production version of that concept. Now called the Honda e Prototype, the EV features an extra set of doors but is just as cute and distinctive as the original concept-maybe even more so. The upcoming production version should look nearly identical to this prototype, and Honda has also released the first technical details of the car's powertrain.
The e Prototype's face is extremely simple, a big contrast to the overwrought and aggressive front ends that adorn almost all of Honda's other models (Civic Type R, we're looking at you). A large, concave, lozenge-shaped black panel houses a light-up Honda badge and two large round LED headlights-Honda says this defines the car's "human face." The only air intake is a small opening at the bottom of the bumper that is flanked by two little fog lights. The large black panel on the hood is the charge port; LED lights are visible through the glass panel to show the charge status.
The car's surfacing is refreshingly simple. A single chamfered line, extending from the hood's cutline and wrapping up around the side windows on the C-pillar, is the only real piece of flair. To help with aerodynamics, the front door handles are flush with the body while the rears are hidden in the C-pillar, and cameras are used instead of side mirrors (Honda calls it the Camera Mirror System). Another concave black panel at the rear houses two round LED taillights, mimicking the look of the front end, and the license-plate holders ape the same shape. The result is a design that's super clean, super cute, and retro without being gimmicky, drawing inspiration from iconic Honda hatches like the Civic CVCC and the N600.
We've already used up a lot of digital ink talking about how much we love the e Prototype's interior, but now we have a fully lit photo of it that exposes new details, so we can gush even more. Honda says it wanted the e Prototype's interior to have a loungelike feel, and the minimalist design, lovely fabric seats, and modern design details do a good job of achieving that goal. Three large screens dominate the dashboard, which is topped by an expansive piece of wood trim, and the two smaller displays on each side of the interior are for the e Prototype's exterior cameras (the rearview mirror is also a digital screen). This new photo reveals a center console between the front seats that houses the gear selector, driving-mode switch, and other related controls. We previously suspected that the console would have a knob or touchpad to control the infotainment; now it seems as though everything will be done by touching the screens and using the small row of physical controls on top of the dash. The screens could potentially be a far reach and too complex to be controlled only by touch, but Honda says the system "has been designed for ultimate usability" and uses "next-generation digital aids" for multitasking and menu navigation.
We don't have a photo of the back seat yet, but Honda says the car has a completely flat floor, which should help make the car feel bigger than it really is. We also have yet to see the rear cargo area. With seemingly no frunk at the front of the car, the only cargo space will be behind the rear seats.
The e Prototype is the first compact Honda to be built on a new stand-alone electric platform that will spawn other models. Honda says the car will have a range of more than 124 miles, and fast-charging can replenish an 80 percent charge in half an hour. Most important to us, the e Prototype's electric motor drives power to the rear wheels. Yes, this cute little EV is rear-wheel drive! We kinda buried the lede there, didn't we. Honda says it's "focused on delivering a fun and emotive experience" and that the car's long wheelbase, short overhangs, and wide track give it great driving dynamics and maneuverability. Don't expect the e Prototype to be a drift machine, though-we can't imagine it will have much more than 150 horsepower, if that.
Honda is planning on two-thirds of its European sales being electrified by 2025, and the e Prototype has been designed with that goal in mind. The production car will only be sold in Europe initially, with production beginning later in the year. We hope it gets a better name-we're partial to Urban EV-but we really hope that no matter what the production car gets called, it will eventually be sold in the United States.
Oh, and Honda, now that you're almost done developing this car, can you please start working on a production version of the Sports EV concept? Thanks!
This story was originally published on February 27, 2019.
('You Might Also Like',)