The retro-styled Honda Urban EV concept has been unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show this week, giving us a taste of what to expect from a production version confirmed for 2019.
Based on an all-new platform, the Urban EV concept previews the design and battery technology for the upcoming production model, in a package smaller than the Jazz light hatch.
The overall design looks to be inspired by the first-generation Civic, with its old-school three-door hatchback shape, large circular headlights, square tail-lights, big glasshouse, and multi-spoke alloy wheels.
It appears Honda has taken a page out of the books of manufacturers like Fiat and Volkswagen by reviving a classic model with a modern twist – think 500 and Beetle.
Despite its diminutive size, the Urban EV has a low and wide stance that is typically associated with sportier vehicles, while the blue-backlit Honda badge previews a new styling for future electric models from the Japanese brand.
Between the headlights, interactive messages can be displayed – such as greetings, phrases communicating to other drivers on the road, along with charging status.
Inside, the retro theme continues. There’s room for four occupants across two bench seats. Up front, the pews are trimmed in ‘natural grey’ fabric, while the seat backs, squabs and armrests are finished with wood trim.
The same wood finish adorns the ‘floating’ dashboard, which houses the steering column, main switchgear, and a ‘panoramic’ central display that wraps around behind the console, with additional displays inserted into the doors. Why the doors? The extended sections of the screen replace conventional wing mirrors with real-time camera imagery.
Honda’s minimalistic approach to buttons and switchgear again harks back to the designs of its early vehicles.
At the rear, the seatbelts are fixed into the middle of the seat, meaning the belt retracts out of the way before a passenger exits the vehicle via the rear-hinged coach doors.
The Honda Urban EV concept also features the company’s new Automated Network Assistant, acting as a personal concierge and learns from the driver by detecting emotions and judgements while driving. Meanwhile, the electric drive system is capable of releasing energy back into the home or selling it to the grid when connected to Honda’s Power Management energy storage concept.
Further details such as power outputs and range are still to be confirmed, though the concept and subsequent production car will form part of Honda’s ‘Electric Vision’ strategy – including the development of a dedicated EV platform, which entails a high-density and lightweight battery pack, integrated heat management system and the evolution of energy transfer solutions to and from the vehicle.