When we saw the Honda Urban EV concept at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, we wondered how much of the butch attitude would make production. The answer is most of it. Honda unveiled the Honda E Prototype today, which is a few percent away from what the production electric vehicle — sold under a different name — will look like when it goes on sale later this year in Europe.
The illuminated badge and text displays on the concave black front won't survive to the dealer's lot because the UK's Advertising Standards Authority considers such illuminations forbidden advertisement. The front and rear headlights have gone full circle, instead of the clipped circles and rounded rectangles on the concept. The body-colored rim around the roof is gone, but a roof spoiler hangs over the backlight. The loss of the 20-inch multi-spoke wheels under kicked-out fender flares makes the biggest change in stance. The pictured proto sits on 17-inch wheels, the optional rim from the 16-inch standard. But there might be room to slide a 19-incher under there.
Honda has announced that a prototype of the Urban EV's production version is coming to Geneva. Today, Honda released this teaser photo of the prototype's dashboard, showing a full-width display with screens for the mirror cameras on both ends.
As well as showing the dashboard and its wood trim, the image contains a car icon that shows how the exterior will look. Just as in the earlier spy shots, it's obvious the EV is now a five-door, with short rear doors crafted behind the longer front doors. Some of the original, retro-inspired concept's minimalistic cuteness has been lost in translation to a more production-viable form, and it looks like any "suicide" doors are now gone. The rear door doesn't show any place for a handle, so unless they have been dropped from the icon for looks' sake, the handles will have been fitted in the black triangle in the corner of the glass.
Over the past few years, Honda has revealed a couple of sleek EV concepts with retro-inspired designs. First up at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show was the Urban EV hatchback that resembled a mix of a Honda N600 and a first-gen Volkswagen Golf. That followed a month later by the Sports EV coupe at the Tokyo Motor Show. Today, Honda announced it was bringing a new EV prototype to the Geneva Motor Show. Based on the single image, it looks like it's the production version of the Urban EV.
Honda already confirmed that the car would go into production, though it's unclear (and unlikely) if it will make it to America. We've already seen spy photos from production version testing in Europe. Based on the photos, it looks like the production car will add a set of rear doors. It's far more practical, but we do love the Urban EV's three-door style.
No matter how concept-like it might look, Honda is adamant in making the Urban EV a production car. At the Geneva Motor Show, Honda announced that orders for the Urban EV will be taken from early next year. Prices have not yet been confirmed.
Honda Motor Europe's Philip Ross told the crowd at a press conference: "A production version of this highly acclaimed concept will be introduced to Europe during late 2019, and in response to the positive feedback to this model, we expect to open order banks for the Urban EV during early 2019." U.S.-market sales plans remain unannounced, but we'd imagine there are plenty of Honda drivers that would welcome the Urban EV — especially the kind of early adopters who took to the original, dainty Insight hybrid.
Honda's designs in recent years have been at best a muddle, offering a riot of curves, cuts and creases and sometimes off-kilter proportions. But its two latest concepts point to a bright and markedly different electric future.
The Urban EV – a simply but smartly proportioned small hatchback surely inspired by the classic first-generation Honda Civic and Volkswagen Golf – was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. That was quickly followed by the svelte and curvy Sports EV at the Tokyo Motor Show six weeks later, where Autoblog caught up with the design boss.
Honda revealed a small electric concept with a slight throwback vibe Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Based on an all-new platform, the Urban EV will launch in Europe in 2019.
The tiny concept is even smaller — by 100 mm — than the diminutive Jazz supermini. You'll immediately notice the backlit Honda emblem, which presages a design cue that will show up on future Honda EVs. The grille area displays words, like the charge status, but it can also display messages for other drivers. That could be fun.