New Honda e Prototype revealed with 120-mile range at Geneva

The Honda Urban EV concept has morphed into the e Prototype, which is ‘98 per cent’ the finished article and is starring at Geneva 2019

This is the Honda e Prototype, a thinly-veiled glimpse at the Japanese company’s pure-electric supermini that will be on sale at the end of the year.

The BMW i3 rival was previewed by the Urban EV concept back at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017, but this prototype is “around 98 per cent” the finished article.

• Geneva Motor Show 2019 preview

Obvious changes over the Urban EV are two rear doors for greater practicality, while the overall size and shape has inflated slightly. Yet the exterior and interior of the EV, which doesn’t yet have a name, are a radical shift from anything in Honda’s current range. The design team used the brand’s classic cars, such as the Mk1 Civic, as inspiration.

The e Prototype is 3,895mm long, 1,750mm wide and 1,495mm tall, which makes it more compact than an i3 and even a Renault ZOE. As such, there is only seating for four people inside, with a full-length 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; the reception the concept car received changed that.”

The e Prototype 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, it indicates 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 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 that act as wing mirrors, while a smaller digital readout replaces conventional instruments.

There is currently no indication of how much the e Prototype will cost, but project leader Kohei Hitomi indicated it will not be a budget vehicle.

“Cost is an important factor,” he 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,” Hitomi added.

Honda will reveal the full production vehicle at the end of the year, ahead of sales and first deliveries in early 2020.

What will Honda’s new EV have to beat? These are the best electric cars currently on sale…

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