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Geneva show: Honda’s city slicker

Mixed up: Is it a car? Is it a motorcycle? No, it's Honda 3-RC.

Three-wheeler freewheeler mixes car with motorcycle in Honda 3-RC concept

25 Feb 2010

HONDA has wheeled out a single-seat commuter concept vehicle that draws on its experience in both car and a motorcycle design.

The electric-powered, three-wheeled 3-RC “minimalist urban transport” was created by Honda’s European research and development centre in Milan, Italy, for next week’s Geneva motor show.

The not-for-production vehicle follows in the wheel tracks of a growing list of attempts by various motor companies to nail the urban runabout concept. These include BMW’s Clever, Renault’s Twizy, Nissan’s LandGlider and the Volkswagen L1.

15 center imageFrom top: 3-RC, Honda EV-N, Renault Twizy and Volkswagen L1.

Using motorcycle wheels and handlebar steering, the Honda 3-RC has a car-style cockpit with a seatbelt, providing a measure of crash protection in city traffic.

The images released by Honda overnight reveal a plastic bubble canopy that protects the vehicle when parked. This canopy apparently folds back to become “an enveloping wind-shield” when the vehicle is mobile, with the “pilot’s” head sticking out the top.

The lockable boot in the front holds a small amount of luggage or shopping, and again provides some crumple-zone protection in a frontal collision.

Honda says the battery and electric motor sit low in the chassis to help keep the centre of gravity low, but it gave no details of the specific technologies, power or performance, including range.

It was also unclear if the 3-RC leans into corners, motorcycle-style – a technology apparently mastered by Nissan for its two-seat 1+1 LandGlider.

An electric vehicle based on Renault’s twin-seat Twizy ZE (for zero emissions) is slated for production in Spain from 2011.

The Twizy is said to be a co-development with partner Nissan, sharing technology with LandGlider. The 420kg Twizy is said to offer a maximum driving range of 100km and a 75km/h top speed.

Its 15kW/70Nm electric motor is claimed to deliver 125cc motorcycle-style performance.

Honda’s similar concept EV-N electric micro car – inspired by its original 1967 N360 ‘Scamp’ city car – remains a concept. Originally shown at last year’s Tokyo motor show, the lithium-battery-powered micro car will get another airing at Geneva, as will Honda’s FCX Clarity fuel-cell vehicle.

Two of the hydrogen-fuelled Claritys are stationed in Europe for long-term research.

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