The Honda Urban EV Concept Is What We All Want Honda to Be

“This is not some vision of the distant future,” Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo says of the Honda Urban EV Concept that debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “A production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019.”

Be a skeptic if you like. Honda’s recent history is full of pie-in-the-sky small car concepts that never came to production fruition: Remix, Step Bus, IMAS, Puyo, P-Nut, Gear. But there are also Honda concepts that ended up in the real world. The Model X Concept became the Element, the CR-Z Concept became the CR-Z, the SUT Concept arrived as the Ridgeline.

Honda has every intention to introduce the delightfully retro-modern Urban EV, albeit most assuredly without suicide doors, gigantic wheels, a front bench, or the unusually minimalistic interior. Yet if Honda can maintain the silhouette, a blend of early Civic and Mk1 Golf GTI, we’ll begin to wonder whether Honda’s lost decade – in which mistakes were made and costs were cut — is about to produce evidence of a reinvigorated Honda.

Granted, it’s not as though the Honda Urban EV Concept will translate to a production model bound for North America.

Honda’s CEO specifically called out a production version of the Urban EV Concept for Europe. Honda’s North American press corps have yet to make a mention of the Urban EV — we’re gleaning official press material from Honda UK.

Numerous vital unknowns remain. Honda says the Urban EV is a pure all-electric four-seat car, four inches shorter than a Honda Fit bumper-to-bumper, and features what Honda calls the Power Manager Concept, which aims to store and share electricity between the Urban EV, your home, and the grid.

But what kind of electric powertrain? How much power? What level of range is predicted? There are no answers to those questions, not yet.Honda sticks with the backlit blue emblem the company says will be featured on all of the company’s EVs. Honda also says the front of the car can display multilingual messages, “including greetings, advice for other drivers on the road, or charging status updates.” That seems… odd. More importantly, Honda claims slim A-pillars and a wraparound front windscreen — a boon for visibility and a traditional Honda hallmark. Speaking of wraparounds, the infotainment screen stretches across much of the dash, takes a break behind the steering wheel, and appears again on the driver’s door.

North America’s move away from small cars (subcompacts are down 23 percent this year in the U.S.), the very slow rise of electric vehicle adoption, and the forthcoming disappearance of federal tax credits doesn’t bode well for a smaller-than-Fit all-electric. But that won’t stop us hankering after expressive Honda design on this side of the Atlantic.

[Image: Honda UK]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.


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