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Frankfurt show: Honda reveals Urban EV Concept

Past and future: Honda’s Urban EV concept draws inspiration from the design of the N360 hatchback from the 1960s.

Honda Urban EV Concept to preview all-electric production vehicle due 2019


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12 Sep 2017

UPDATED: 13/09/2017

HONDA has used the Frankfurt motor show to unveil its Urban EV Concept, which will preview the battery technology to be used in a full-electric production vehicle from the Japanese car-maker due on sale by 2019.

However, no details have emerged on the capacity, output or charging times of the EV concept’s electric powertrain other than it will “include a high-density, lightweight battery pack, integrated heat management and the evolution of energy transfer functions”.

Speaking with GoAuto in Frankfurt, Honda Europe senior vice president Philip Ross confirmed that production versions of the Urban EV Concept would be built in right-hand drive and will launch first in Europe in 2019 before being considered for roll-out across other markets.

“It won’t be made in Europe, it will be made in Japan,” he said.

Asked what was behind the model’s European focus, Mr Ross said it fitted Honda Europe’s “advanced and sporty mantra”.

“We believe that if we can make a great car for Europe, then it will be great for all the other parts of the world as well.”

Being a pure-electric vehicle, launching first in Europe fits with Honda’s goal that electrified vehicles will account for two-thirds of its global sales by 2030, led by the European market reaching this level five years earlier in 2025.

However, Mr Ross did not expect pure-electric cars such as the Urban EV Concept to account for more than 5.0 per cent of overall Honda sales in Europe.

As to whether the production version of the Urban EV concept will make it to Australia, Honda Australia public relations manager Neil McDonald told GoAuto it was still too early to speculate on which markets outside Europe will get it.

The tiny concept car is built on an entirely new platform, and, at 3896mm long, is 100mm shorter than the Jazz light hatch.

While the technology underpinning the concept may be new, Honda has gone for a simplified, old-school design philosophy for the Urban EV.

Exterior design is reminiscent of a Volkswagen Mk1 Golf, or even the Honda N360 hatchback from the 1960s, with its diminutive proportions, two doors and circular headlights.

The concept has a low stance with minimal overhangs, flared wheel arches and multi-spoke body-coloured wheels in beige, while the front fascia features ringed LED lights and the Honda emblem are finished in blue – new styling feature that will be adopted for all Honda electric vehicles (EVs).

In place of a traditional front grille, Honda has put in an LED screen that can display interactive multilingual messages, including greetings, advice for other drivers on the road or updates relating to charging status. The charging cable connection is housed on the bonnet.

Slim A- and B-pillars help give the Urban EV a compact appearance as well as clear visibility from the cabin, while at the rear, square LED tail-lights combine with another display screen.

Traditional door mirrors are eschewed in favour of slimline cameras that project onto door-mounted screens, while the cabin can be accessed from rear-hinged, front-opening doors.

Inside, four occupants can sit on two bench seats that evoke a lounge feeling, with the front rows upholstered in natural grey fabric, while the seat backs squabs and arm rests are finished in wood.

The large, floating dash is also trimmed in wood, and features a massive wraparound screen that runs behind the console and into the doors.

Honda has gone for a minimalist look with the Urban EV cabin, with the steering wheel, pedals, indicator stalks and a couple of dials comprising the entirety of the interior.

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