By on February 14, 2019

We’ve gone from concept vehicle to prototype, but Honda’s upcoming Urban EV — a pint-sized commuter that’s arguably the first mainstream electric to garner legitimate youth enthusiasm — is no closer to coming to North America. It’s also less retro than its show car predecessor, but no one expected that trillion-inch flatscreen to make it to production.

Oh, you’ll still have screens galore, though.

Honda released an image of the Urban EV prototype’s interior Wednesday, ahead of the vehicle’s March debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The image show a sparse, flat dash with three separate screens spanning the space between driver to passenger, underscored by a piece of wood(grain?) trim.

Image: Honda

First appearing in 2017, the Urban EV stirred the collective imagination and passions of a different type of eco car enthusiast: the young, less affluent one. The show car’s retro appeal conjured up memories of small, affordable, fun-to-toss-around hatchbacks offered in decades past, while its green mission alleviated any guilt felt by the ecologically sensitive.

Well, the two-door concept has since morphed into a more conventional (and marketable) four-door hatch, as Honda wants people to actually buy this, rather than admire it from afar. The hood calls to mind a Fiat 500, and spy photos of a pre-production tester reveals a side profile that apes Volkswagen’s Euro-market T-Roc. Japan gets the Urban EV in 2020, with European customers seeing theirs late this year.

As this model’s mission is getting buyers to and from work, range appears limited to 150 miles or less. The vehicle’s footprint (roughly four inches shorter than a Fit) and anticipated price point limit battery size. That’s okay, though, as European and Japanese commuters aren’t used to wide-open spaces.

Honda’s aiming for electrified vehicles to account for two-thirds of its European sales by 2025, with the Urban EV serving to attract mainstream greenies to the brand. As stated before, a North American launch seems very unlikely. Honda hasn’t breathed a word about a trans-Pacific trip.

[Images: Honda]

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16 Comments on “Honda Pulls Back the Veil on a Less-retro Urban EV...”


  • avatar
    redgolf

    that round old school steering wheel isn’t very appealing, what it needs to set off that cockpit look is a square steering wheel like they had on the 1960 Plymouth Fury, very cool and aesthetically looking!

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Somehow they’ve made the front end look less appealing. The show car had retro cool, like an old school Civic. This looks like an iRobot Fiat 500.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The concept version was an incredible design. The camouflaged preproduction cars that have been photographed look very disappointing.

    This will be more attractive than the Bolt (what isn’t?) but it won’t be anything special.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Honda’s aiming for electrified vehicles to account for two-thirds of its European sales by 2025”

    Surely that’s a joke.

    Urban EVs are already available – Leaf, Bolt, Ioniq EV, Niro EV, Kona EV, 500e, i3, e-Golf, and so on. Most of them are compliance cars, but there are still some choices.

    Honda doesn’t seem serious about the US EV market, and consequently this little EV is nothing more than clickbait.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      EVs make more sense in much of Europe, than here. Two thirds is still just marketing speak, but there’s room to grow there, even once uptake gets broad enough that politicians and their social circle no longer can get away with handing themselves disproportionate public money under guise of “environmental” subsidies.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott

      Just remember electrified doesn’t mean electric, can include mild hybrids, full hybrids, plug in hybrids, full electric, probably things like the hydrogen Clarity and anything else the manufacturers decide to call electrified.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Nice effort! EVs make most sense in urban cars. This one is well designed, including plenty of range for an EV. It even has plenty of tumblehome for a small car, making room for the handlebars of vehicles even more appropriate for urban use. The lack of traditional mirrors helps further that, although I suspect that feature will have to go on production models, at least outside of Japan.

  • avatar
    James2

    Probably defeats the practical aspect but I would be (slightly) interested in one that looked more like a CRX.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Tesla won’t be losing any sales over this!

    That said, the more electric options, the better.

    We currently own a 2016 Honda Civic, and the only thing I don’t love about it is that it burns gasoline. The current plan is to replace it with a Tesla Model 3, but an electric version of the car we already have would be a serious contender for the next car upgrade.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    I would love to own an electric car but I never will. The reason is that I am in my mid seventies and likely already own the last car that I will ever own. I have a 2003 Ford Escape with not a lot of miles. I only drive about a hundred miles a month since I do most of my running around on a motor scooter. At about twelve hundred miles a year the Escape will have less than eighty thousand miles by the time I croak. So no electric car for me.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Perhaps a used one someday? If my mom (who is 80) ever needs to replace her 02 Altima, I’m recommending a cheap used EV. She drives the same miles as you do. With less maintenance than regular cars, ownership is a dream.


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