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Tokyo show: Honda lights up with electric trio

Green hot: Honda is attempting to get more excitement into its brand with its “next-generation compact EV sports model”.

Honda to unveil electric sportscar, EV city car and plug-in hybrid sedan at Tokyo

Honda logo11 Nov 2011

DEMONSTRATING that it has all bases covered in a future world dominated by electrified vehicles, Honda will stage the world premiere of three concept cars at the Tokyo motor show on November 30, including a small city car, touring sedan and a stunning roadster.

After pledging in June to reduce CO2 emissions from its global products by 30 per cent by the end of 2020 (compared to levels in 2000), Honda has placed battery power – spanning full-electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains – front and centre for its home-market motor show.

Importantly, the Japanese auto giant has moved to pump some excitement into the Honda brand with the “next-generation compact EV sports model” that it has tentatively named the Small Sports EV Concept, but which is being mooted as a potential Porsche Boxster rival.

Honda is keeping its powder dry on the sportscar concept until the show, releasing no technical details and saying only that it is “fun to drive while achieving excellent environmental performance”.

While the sketches issued this week and its full-EV status point to a much more aggressive, potentially mid-engined layout than an open-top version of the CR-Z hybrid, the sports concept does not appear to herald a successor to the NSX supercar, as some had suggested Honda was planning to reveal at the show.

15 center imageLeft: AC-X concept. Below: Micro Commuter concept, Motor Compo concept, N Box concept.

Dubbed the AC-X (for Advanced Cruiser Experience), the touring sedan concept is a plug-in hybrid with a wedged-shaped design reminiscent of the FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle and a size that looks to slot in between the Civic and wide-bodied Accord.

Honda calls it a “next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicle which offers a more comfortable and enjoyable time in the vehicle during all driving situations, from urban to long-distance driving”.

The AC-X offers the driver the choice between an ‘engine drive mode’ for sportier performance and an ‘automatic drive mode’ for more relaxed driving.

No other details are forthcoming at this stage, but it is likely to feature a version of the plug-in hybrid powertrain that Honda has engineered for a still-under-wraps medium/large car to debut in Japan, China and the US next year.

The electric commuter, meanwhile, is more akin to rival brands’ concepts like the Suzuki Q and Nissan Pivo 3 to be shown at Tokyo than previous commuter show cars from Honda, including the retro EV-N presented in Tokyo two years ago and the single-seat three-wheeled 3-RC unveiled in Geneva last year.

Honda dubs the three-seat (2+1) ‘Micro Commuter Concept’ as a “micro-sized, futuristic, electric city commuter vehicle which will become a highly accessible form of mobility”.

Its lithium-ion battery is said to offer a 60km range and is designed to be removable and compatible with other vehicles, such as the tiny ‘Motor Compo’ electric bike that will also be shown at Tokyo – and which Honda claims can be loaded aboard the Micro Commuter Concept.

The colourful panels on the exterior of the commuter can also be easily removed – enabling customisation in a similar fashion to mobile phone cases – while aerodynamic measures are used across the vehicle, including F1-inspired wheel covers and an adjustable rear diffuser and body undercover.

Honda will also use this year’s Tokyo show to reveal a near-production ‘N Concept’ micro-car pointing to its next-generation Japanese-market 660cc mini-car series known as ‘N Box’.

In Australia, the Japanese brand launches its long-awaited CR-Z hybrid coupe this month, and will next year introduce a new-generation Civic Hybrid.

The Australian subsidiary has committed to taking whatever hybrid vehicles are made available, including a petrol-electric version of the Jazz and a still-to-be-revealed plug-in medium/large hybrid.

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