Honda e name confirmed for e Prototype production car

Honda has dropped the 'Prototype' from the name of its retro-styled all-electric supermini, ahead of the Honda e’s planned release in 2020

Honda’s retro-styled, all-electric supermini has been renamed as the “Honda e” ahead of its release next year. This latest development follows the debut of a “98 percent” complete, near production-ready version of the Honda e Prototype at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

Honda’s remaining two percent of development will probably be limited to software and drivetrain tweaks. The styling of the Japanese firm’s all-electric supermini has already undergone a major rethink over the critically-acclaimed Urban EV prototype from the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, so further major revisions seem unlikely.

• 2019 Geneva Motor Show coverage

Obvious changes over the Urban EV are two rear doors for greater practicality (although the door handles are hidden in the C-pillars). The Honda e’s overall size and shape has also inflated slightly, while the wheels have reduced in size. Although it’s more restrained than the 2017 concept, the exterior and interior are a radical shift from anything in Honda’s current range.

Honda’s design team used the brand’s classic cars, such as the Mk1 Civic, as inspiration. As such, it retains relatively compact dimensions, measuring 3,895mm long, 1,750mm wide and 1,495mm tall, making it more compact than the BMW i3 and the Renault ZOE. As such, there is only seating for four people, with a full-width rear bench accommodating two adults.

Exterior design chief Ken Sahara told Auto Express: “The production car was finalised before we showed the concept, so the design was fixed. Other areas of the business were sceptical about our approach; but the reception the concept car received changed that.”

The Honda e sits on a new, dedicated platform for EVs. Honda claims the car will be capable of 120 miles (WLTP) on a single charge, but hasn’t confirmed the size of the on-board battery. Using the quoted range as a guide, we suspect it’ll come with a battery capacity of around 30kWh; less than half of that offered in the Kia e-Niro. A single electric motor on the rear axle drives the car, but Honda has yet to issue any performance figures.

Designers have started from scratch with the e Prototype’s cabin. It’s dominated by a bank of digital screens; two 12.3-inch displays sit side by side to create a single dash display that stretches across the width of the dashboard and provide access to a suite of in-car apps and media functions.

Two six-inch monitors sit in each corner to show the rear view from the cameras on the doors that act as wing mirrors, while a smaller digital readout replaces conventional instruments.

There is currently no indication of how much the Honda e will cost when it moves to production status, but project leader Kohei Hitomi indicated it will not be a budget vehicle. Despite this, Honda has already received around 6,500 expressions of interest from UK customers.

“Cost is an important factor,” Hitomi told us. “Look at the iPhone: they are not cheap products but still everybody wants them. The high cost has a justification. It is full of practicality and performance – we believe the same of our electric vehicle. We do not want to provide a low-cost product.”

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