One of Honda’s best-received concepts of recent memory was the car that it brought to the Frankfurt auto show in 2017—the Urban EV Concept, a model that reincarnated the automaker’s old City hatchback, with elements of retro Civic thrown in, all built as a modern electric car.
Wednesday, Honda revealed its evolution of that concept for the Geneva Motor Show next week—the e Prototype, which previews a production model.
The proportions of the Urban EV concept look to have been mostly held intact, and details such as the eye-like ring-shaped headlamps have been carried directly over.
The e Prototype also features pop-out door handles (that are otherwise flush), plus a digital rearview mirror system of the sort that’s common on concept cars, but not yet approved for U.S. roads.
Honda e Prototype
Inside, Honda calls the look minimalist but relaxed, with what Honda describes as “a comfortable lounge-like feel” and a walk-through floor that’s flat through the front and rear of the cabin. Looking at the initial picture released of the interior, we’ll agree with some of that, but the multiple screens and shelf-like interior combine utilitarian aspects with multiple screens and an upright look. If Land Rover made a city car, this could also be the look.
The e Prototype is built on a new EV-specific platform, with rear-wheel drive and, relative to its length and height, a wide stance that should aid dynamics. Short overhangs and a relatively long wheelbase help give the little hatchback an athletic look. According to Honda, it “delivers a vehicle package to meet the needs of the modern enthusiast.”
Range will be about 124 miles, estimated with new European WLTP standards, and the e Prototype will be able to charge its battery to 80 percent in just 30 minutes. Honda hasn’t released the battery size or the peak power allowed, but the e Prototype and any production model based on it are expected to have CCS Combo DC fast charging—with the charge port centrally located at the front of the vehicle, to help avoid parking issues when sidling up to charging hardware.
Honda e Prototype
Honda says that production of its compact urban EV will begin later this year. Don’t count on the production version of the e Prototype ever reaching the U.S., however. We’ve been told that the model hasn’t been engineered to North American standards; and Honda notes that the new model will be a key part of its Electric Vision strategy for Europe.
The e Prototype will be revealed at the Geneva auto show March 5 and is expected to be shown alongside the Tomo EV concept created with students from Italy's Istituto Europeo di Design. Between the two of these, it’s clear that Honda is taking Europe—and electric vehicles in Europe—seriously. Let’s hope they do the same in the U.S. soon.