Honda's cute Urban EV Concept set for production
Honda has used the Frankfurt Motor Show to unveil a delightfully retro electric concept dubbed the Urban EV Concept. With cute looks inspired by the first Civic, an airy interior and a tiny footprint, it previews a proper production electric vehicle set to arrive in 2019.
Although we're light on details about the Urban EV, it certainly shows plenty of promise. As safety standards have become tougher, pillars have become thicker and visibility worse from behind the wheel. Just like the first-generation Civic that inspired it, the little concept has spindly pillars and a massive glasshouse, bathing the interior with light.
The car itself is almost square. It's 100 mm (3.9 in) shorter than the (already small) Fit, and the wheels are pushed all the way to the edge of the body for a sporty stance. The wheels themselves are beautiful retro units, while the Civic-aping headlights and brake lights are flanked by screens capable of displaying messages. For the concept, Honda chose to show #UrbanEV.
There's seating for four inside, with pared-back benches front and rear. The front row is trimmed in gray fabric, while dark wooden accents adorn the seat backs and dashboard. Atop the dash is a massive widescreen wrap-around display, which flows down into the door panels. The central screen displays driving information, while the door displays do the job of door mirrors, showing a feed from aero-cameras mounted on the doors.
This wouldn't be a modern concept EV without some kind of active assistant. The Honda Automated Network Assistant is designed to act as a concierge, learning about the driver by reading their emotions. Once it learns about the driver, it can offer recommendations or suggestions about what they might enjoy listening to.
In keeping with the detail-light, excitement-heavy theme of the car, Honda has also used the show to announce plans for a power management system capable of shuffling electricity between the car, house and power grid. Nissan does something similar in the new Leaf, so it will be interesting to compare the two approaches when Honda puts its system into production.
"This is not some vision of the distant future; a production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019," says Honda President and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo.
The Urban EV Concept was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where New Atlas is on the ground covering all the action. Stay tuned for the latest.
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DFrancis: One of the things I like about this car is how it manages to combine the original Civic look (right down to the little square on the hood) with the early Golf look. We still own a 2000 Golf, which I consider the best-built car I've ever owned, better even than my dad's '69 Lincoln. The fact that it's a Honda puts it over the top—we also still have a '96 Odyssey (the early model, basically a square-back Accord) that's running like a champ as a daily driver and long-haul trip master. Throw in the fact that it's an EV, and I might give up my 500e to get into this.