Honda Micro-Commuter Prototype - Tochigi, Japan - 11/2012
We already know how popular the tiny kei-class cars are in Japan, for example--but some automakers are exploring even smaller vehicles to meet future transportation needs.
Like the Renault Twizy minicar, Honda's concept is an electric vehicle, a 15 kW electric motor powering the rear wheels and a small lithium-ion battery pack providing around 40 miles of range.
That might verge on the unacceptable in many markets, but should be ideally suited to the short but highly trafficked commutes of Japanese drivers. On a 240V charge, just three hours are required to top up the battery pack.
Several companies have shown tiny electric commuting vehicles over the past few years.
Honda's Japanese rival Toyota recently displayed the i-Road concept, while Volkswagen, Audi and Opel have all unveiled single or twin-seat microcars in recent years with the Nils, Urban Concept and RAK-e respectively.
The only large automaker to put such a vehicle into series production is French marque Renault, with its Twizy. Partner Nissan is also considering a Twizy rival, possibly influenced by its 2009 Land Glider Concept.
Honda's tests are set to begin later this year, the data from usage patterns and vehicle needs expected to influence future production vehicles.
They might look weird to our eyes, but for some cities and countries, tiny urban electric cars like this could well be the future of transportation.