Revealed: Honda's e Prototype is a retro EV nearing production
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Back in September, Honda unveiled the Urban EV Concept — a fully electric hatch that stole the Frankfurt Motor Show away from the glossy hypercars thanks to its unique, retro styling.
But, as is always the case with concepts (even those that are pledged to eventually go into production), there's a question of what design features and bold claims will get softened and changed over time. Now, Honda have unveiled the second phase of the Urban EV, and we can get a much better understanding of what they'll be putting through production.
The most obvious change is the the new name; it's now simply called the Honda e Prototype.
Other changes? Well visually, almost everything has been given some kind of tweak. The super large, turbine wheels are gone — replaced with some nonetheless classy black and silver examples. There's two more doors now, making this a more practical hatchback.
The display built into the front panel is gone, with more black scattered all over the remnants of the design. All in all, the differences are akin to many of those made to concepts as they become reality. Overall, it appears that Honda have done well to retain most of the original concept car's swagger. Don't expect it to change too much from here; reports suggest that this is 90 per cent production ready.
All that talk about making things more soft doesn't mean that the E Prototype doesn't have some next-generation tech features going for it. Flush door handles help its economy abilities, while rear-pointed cameras mounted on each front door act as replacement wing-mirrors for the driver.
The toys continue inside, where Honda have done their best to carry a 'loungeroom' aesthetic and feel. The seats are made out of recycled polyester and look like a cross between something from Nan's place and something from a boutique hipster cafe. Warm woods on the dash, and a steering wheel that looks directly lifted from a Honda S2000 give it a homely look — countering perfectly the huge offensive of screens.
The two on each flank will show what's displayed in the wing mirrors, while two largest 12-inch screens are interconnected — the interface of each playing with each other through the various in-screen tools and features.
Recycled polyester and a bevy of screens is one thing, but for this little Honda to succeed the numbers from its electric powertrain need to match up with consumer requirements. And in this regard, it's a car that might be up against it.
On the plus side for enthusiasts, the e Prototype is rear-wheel drive. Exact numbers haven't been confirmed in terms of the size of the battery and the like, but Honda have issued a range figure of "over 200km per charge" with fast-charge functionality that will give the EV 80 per cent of charge in 30 minutes.
For a compact city car, 200km is realistically not a bad number. These cars are far more likely to be seen hunting urban areas, rather than playing around in the sticks. But, remember that the likes of the Hyundai Kona EV, upcoming electric Kia Soul, and the Tesla Model 3 already boast range capabilities of well over 400km.
Regardless, this is set to be one of Honda's most exciting and intriguing mainstream releases in recent times. Let's see if those camera-based wing-mirrors make it to production ...