Honda e Prototype revealed previewing 2019 production model

Honda e Prototype revealed at Geneva Motor Show, with production model to come later this year

The electric Honda e Prototype has made its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The car is a follow-on from the Urban EV concept and a preview of the production model of Honda's electric city car, which will go on sale later in 2019.

There are no confirmed performance details at this stage, although Honda has suggested the e Prototype will deliver 120 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle.

The e Prototype has been built on Honda’s new platform for electric cars, with a single electric motor driving the rear wheels. It'll be 3,895mm long, 1,750mm wide and 1,495mm tall, making it smaller than rivals like the BMW i3 and Renault ZOE.

As such, it'll only seat four people, however a full-length bench in the rear will afford enough space for two full-sized, adult passengers.

According to Honda the production car is “98% finished”, although it has yet to decide on a name for what will be its first electric car.

It won’t be a budget vehicle. Speaking to our sister title Auto Express, the e Prototype’s project leader Kohei Hitomi said the car going on sale later this year will not be “a low-cost product”. He explained: “Look at the iPhone: they are not cheap products but still everybody wants it.”

Honda e Prototype design

The look of the Urban EV concept generated a lot of interest when it made its debut in 2017, and it’s easy to see why. It managed to mix the retro looks of the 1970s Honda Civic outside with a cutting-edge, minimalist interior dominated by a digital screen running the full width of the dashboard.

There were also plenty of details on the car that previewed the direction Honda design will take in the future. For example, the backlit blue logo will appear on all of Honda’s electric cars, while the display between the headlights shows charging status when it’s plugged in.

 

The most noticeable difference between the Urban EV and the e Prototype is that the former's three-door design has been ditched in favour of a more practical five-door body. Meanwhile, the nose and pillars have been made bulkier to add strength for safety.

Battery

Honda has yet to reveal how big the car's battery will be, although a range of 120 miles has been touted. That would suggest a figure in the region of 30kWh, less than you get in the BMW i3, the Honda's most direct rival.

The output of the electric motor hasn’t been confirmed, either, although we do know that the e Prototype will be rear-wheel drive. For now, we can only assume the car will be compatible with the latest fast-charging technology.

Interior

The interior of the e Prototype was teased last month, but now we've seen the interior in the flesh for the first time at Geneva.

There are several developments from 2017’s concept car: while the long, digital screen remains, it has been split into sections across the length of the dashboard. Two 12.3-inch screens sit in the middle, giving access to the car’s range of apps and other functions.

The left screen controls the sat nav, vehicle settings and a ‘Personal Assistant’ feature, while the right portion houses DAB radio and charging information.

The conventional instrument display has been replaced with a digital readout behind the steering wheel, and the dashboard is book-ended by two six-inch monitors that act as wing mirrors: they're linked to cameras located outside the car.

However, the Japanese carmaker has resisted the temptation to digitise everything: buttons for voice control, cruise control and volume adjustment can been seen on the steering wheel, in addition to a camera button on the right stalk.

Traditional climate-control dials are found on the centre console, and Honda has added a number of buttons to the wooden trim above the vents. Two 230V power outlets and one 12V outlet feature as well, as do a pair of USB sockets and a single HDMI port. The graphics also indicate that the Honda's charger will plug in using a port located on the bonnet of the car.

Honda says the infotainment system features a “clean design” and “intuitive technology”, representing a break from the systems used on its current range.

The car the e Prototype previews – which will be Honda's first electric car – is currently undergoing testing, and is scheduled to go on sale later in 2019. It'll spearhead a range of electric cars in the pipeline from the Japanese manufacturer, which hopes two-thirds of its cars will feature electric or hybrid powertrains by 2025.

Release date

The Honda e Prototype's design is unlikely to evolve much before the production version is signed off later this year. Order books are expected to open soon, with first deliveries expected early in 2020.