Honda has said order books for its Urban EV electric car will open in early 2019. The announcement came during Honda’s 2018 Geneva Motor Show press conference, just months after the manufacturer unveiled the concept at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The Urban EV is said to employ an entirely new platform, although specific details haven"t been announced. However, a high-density, lightweight battery pack is promised, as is a system to manage and utilise heat generated by the electrical system. It"s also claimed to offer a way to take full advantage of its battery power – Honda"s "power manager concept" is said to enable power from renewable sources to be efficiently stored and either used in your home or sold back to the grid.
Speaking at the Geneva Motor Show, Honda’s European boss Philip Ross said: “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.”
The Urban EV Concept comes as part of Honda"s vision of a future in which daily life and personal mobility are "seamlessly linked". Using the Honda Automated Network Assistant, which is described as a "personal concierge", the concept car has the ability to detect and learn from the emotions that influence the driver"s judgement. This behaviour is then considered when the car offers new choices and recommendations.
Externally, Honda has striven for low, wide proportions and says it has given the EV Concept a "planted, muscular stance that hints at sporty driving performance". It"s said to be 100mm shorter than the Honda Jazz supermini. A blue backlit Honda emblem will appear on future EVs from the brand, but the illuminated information panel between the headlamps is perhaps less likely for production – it can display greetings, charging status updates and advice for other drivers.
Although the company is playing it down, there"s an undeniable resemblance to the first-generation Honda Civic – the car that really established Honda as a global player in the 1970s. There"s nothing retro-influenced about the interior, though – the concept has a huge panoramic display screen that displays driving, navigation and vehicle information such as the battery level. Exterior mirrors are replaced by views shown on further screens curving from the dashboard and into the doors.
The main screen is mounted on a floating "dashboard console" shelf with looks akin to domestic furniture, with a wood finish that"s also picked out on the seat armrests, squabs and seatbacks. This is claimed to create a "lounge" feel, to which the wide front-row bench contributes with a neutral grey fabric finish. Good driver visibility is promised by narrow front pillars and a wide windscreen and rear access is said to be made easy and convenient with rear-hinged doors and seatbelts that retract into the seat base.
Part of Honda’s ‘Electric Vision’ includes having two-thirds of its cars electric by 2030. When a production version of the Urban EV Concept hits the road in Europe, it’ll be one of the first all-electric Hondas available in the region.
Along with the pure electric Urban Concept, Honda has also shown a prototype of the CR-V Hybrid, which simultaneously offers a glimpse of the European version of the new CR-V set to go on sale later in 2017.
The Urban EV will be Honda’s first mass-produced electric model to go on sale in Europe, with orders being taken from early next year.