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Positive Honda E reception to shape future models

Cute as a button: The general reaction to the all-electric Honda E’s exterior design has been overwhelmingly positive since its reveal.

EV chief engineer says a friendlier design will feature in most future Hondas

Honda logo30 Oct 2019

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in TOKYO

HONDA has revealed that the initial favourable reaction to its first mass-production battery-electric vehicle (BEV), the E, has prompted the company to move towards similarly cool and clean retro-evoking styling themes for future production models.

 

Speaking to GoAuto at the production Honda E’s home-market debut at the Tokyo motor show, Honda E chief engineer Kohei Hitomi said that the public and press have really warmed to the more approachable design of the series, from the moment the Honda Urban EV Concept debuted at the 2017 IAA in Frankfurt, Germany. 

 

“The Honda E may influence the design of future models because it has already had some impact because of its unique characteristics,” he said. “I’m not in charge of design, but we’ll probably consider more friendly designs for the user moving into the future.”

 

Also responsible for the second-generation Jazz/Fit series sold between 2008 and 2014, Mr Hitomi said that while he’d like the E to spawn a family of models in the not-too-distant future, Honda must first concentrate on making the five-door EV supermini a success when sales commence next year.

 

“My idea is that we’d like to release this model as a completely new vehicle based on a new concept, and that we announce this new model as kind of an extension of a sports model or an SUV model so it may be perceived as a kind of a variation,” he said. “(But for now) we decided to announce this as a lone model (first, to see how it is received by consumers).”

 

Although he was chosen for his decades of experience developing highly successful superminis like the Jazz/Fit series, Mr Hitomi said that there are no plans to merge the latter with the E range as they have very different jobs to perform in their respective segments. The E in particular is charged, so to speak, with attracting new buyers to the brand who may otherwise not choose a Honda.

 

“I don’t think we are going to converge these two models,” he said, “because the Fit is targeting the mass users, and we’d like to attract as many people as possible, while the Honda E is something special and something new, so we’d like to separate this new technology and the Fit.” 

 

As it stands, the E and the all-new fourth-generation Jazz/Fit – that broke cover at this year’s Tokyo motor show – share very few components, even though the latter is being made available with a hybrid (but not BEV – for now) powertrain.

 

“There are some common items, such as the base part and frames of the steering as well as the ADAS Honda Sensing hardware,” Mr Hitomi explained.

 

“As for the platform, it is unique and so has nothing in common with the Fit; it only uses the same size wheelbase and wheel fit, but we have taken nothing else, so nothing from their platform or architecture is shared.”

 

He also revealed that Honda plans to offer BEV versions of its mainstream models in the future, much in the same way as Hyundai does with the Kona Electric small SUV, adding that that may ultimately be the way forward rather than going to the immense expense of developing stand-alone (for now) models like the E.

 

“The other manufacturers’ strategy about EVs is going in the right direction,” Mr Hitomi admitted. “At Honda, we haven’t decided yet, but once we determine our EV strategy, maybe we too will take the same way.”


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