Honda e confirmed as name for maker's electric city car

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 08 May 2019


Honda has confirmed that its upcoming electric city car wlll be called the Honda e when it goes on sale in Europe later this year.

The model was first revealed as the Urban EV concept at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show. A near-production version was then shown at this year's Geneva motor show and called the Honda e prototype. The carmaker has now confirmed that name will stay for the production version.

The firm believes the car’s retro design will give it an Apple-style appeal to customers. 

The protoype shown at Geneva motor show is '95 percent production ready', according to the firm. It maintains the styling of the Urban EV Concept, albeit with the addition of an extra set of doors. While Honda has yet to reveal full technical details of the car, its designers told Autocar UK at the Geneva show that it would offer 'more than' 98bhp and 221lb ft of torque.

Honda said there have been more than 6,500 people who have expressed interest in the Honda e in the UK. Pricing has yet to be set, Autocar understands a ballpark figure is £35,000 (Rs 31 lakh). 

Project manager Kohei Hitomi said the machine had been the subject of an internal 'battle' over whether to put it into production, with the positive reaction to the concept being a key factor in it gaining approval. 

The car is slightly shorter than a Jazz and around 100mm taller than a Mini. Honda has said it will likely have an official range of around 125 miles (201km), with the fast-charging capacity to reach 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. 

The e prototype is built on a new platform designed for A- and B-segment electric cars, with underfloor batteries produced by Panasonic that are similar to those used in the Accord plug-in hybrid in the US market. The rear-mounted electric motor drives the rear wheels, which employ torque vectoring to give a smoother response and improved handling in tight corners. 

Although the e prototype’s range is substantially lower than that offered by rival EVs such as the 282-mile Kia e-Niro or BMW i3, which offers 193 miles (310 km), Hitomi said it was necessary to keep the batteries small to fulfil its city-car role. 

“We believe the range is sufficient for this segment of car,” said Hitomi. “Some potential customers might not be satisfied, but when you think about bigger range and a bigger battery, it has drawbacks in terms of packaging. It’s a balance.” 

The e prototype features cameras instead of rear-view mirrors, which help improve aerodynamic efficiency. There are also flush door handles and the charging port is mounted centrally in the bonnet. 

The cockpit is dominated by two 12-inch touchscreens, built into a dashboard finished with a wood-effect trim. The seats – including a two-seat bench in the rear – are covered in polyester, which, as with the wood effect, is designed to make the interior feel like a living room. 

The e prototype will be built in Japan and go on sale in selected European markets in late 2019, with others following in 2020. It will also be sold in Japan. 

The firm has yet to set pricing. Hitomi said it is “important” the car is affordable but he added: “A low price is not always a guarantee of success. When you look at Apple products, they are not cheap, but everyone wants to have them because of their added value. We believe it is the same for the electric vehicle.”

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