Honda E Prototype looks swanky and ready for production, but not for the U.S.
When you make a concept car as retro-cute and attractive as the Honda Urban EV, which arrived two years ago, enthusiasts will take notice. That’s especially true because Honda doesn’t really do concept cars, or at least not as public show cars. If it shows a vehicle in public, there is a high probably that the vehicle is already being developed for production. That’s just how Honda rolls.
With the arrival of the Honda E Prototype due at the upcoming 2019 Geneva show, that reality is inching closer. The E Prototype looks to be an equally adorable evolution of the Urban EV, this time with a design that appears much closer to final production.
The E Prototype is fairly faithful to its stubby progenitor, with the addition of two rear side doors, while the front doors change from “suicide” style to conventional hinging. The wheels and grille are also redesigned. What hasn’t changed from the “concept” are the side mirrors—or rather the lack of them. The E Prototype uses Honda’s Camera Mirror System, which replaces mirrors with thin, aerodynamic blades containing, you guessed it, video cameras.
The outside is crisp and modern-looking. What about the inside? The seats are upholstered with fabric you’d find on a stylish living room sofa. Electronic displays spread across the dashboard, with touch screens for both driver and passenger, and displays for the Camera Mirror System at the side edges. Despite the abundance of touch screens, HVAC is controlled with actual, not virtual, buttons. Shifting is via a push-button shifter on the small center console. Not only will you be able to charge your phone from a USB tap but there is also apparently an AC power port if you need serious voltage and current.
Taking a page out of Rolls-Royce’s famously “adequate” power ratings, Honda will at this point only say that the little electric car has enough power “for next-generation small-car performance.” Honda is also mum when it comes to specifying battery capacity (reportedly 25 kWh) but range will be north of 124 miles (200 km).
Charging happens via a port under a black panel with integrated LED charging indicators. The E Prototype could be quite fun to drive. Electric cars have maximum torque available immediately off the line and the battery pack is located in the floor which lowers the center of gravity, which should help with handling.
If you’re thinking 124 miles is not far enough for America’s big open spaces, you are correct. Honda has no plans to sell the production version in North America. One hint are those side cameras; current U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards require actual mirrors. Those cams are not street-legal, or at least not without physical mirrors. Another, more obvious hint, was in the E Prototype’s press release, describing the car as “a key part of Honda’s ‘Electric Vision’ strategy for Europe.”