Urban Ev to Expand Burgeoning Honda Plug-In Electric Range
August 02 2019, Trevor Hofmann
Retro Honda Concept Slated for 2019 Production
Attend any major auto show and you'll see numerous concept cars, but few actually go into production. The Honda Urban EV concept, however, has beaten the odds and will enter production in 2019.
The Urban EV, or whatever Honda finally calls it, was the biggest little hit of the 2017 Frankfurt motor show. In fact, it was so popular that Honda announced its production plans earlier this month at the Geneva motor show.
The new subcompact city car will be part of a new range of plug-in vehicles from the Japanese automaker, which already includes the much larger mid-size Clarity five-door hatchback, currently available in North American markets and Japan.
Pulling Design Cues from the Now Classic First-Generation Civic Hatchback
The retrospective Urban EV pulls fond memories from Honda Nation's formative members, its general shape and unique details more than just reminiscent of the brand's first-generation 1972-1979 Civic hatchback. While we can't be sure the production model will replicate this Urban EV concept's design when it debuts later this year or early next, Honda would be smart to keep it as close to a match as possible.
Unfortunately Honda hasn't revealed anything about the new car's power unit, but we can expect similar range to competitive EVs currently on the market, which can drive from 170 to 380 km on a single charge, while recharging times should be in the vicinity as well (about eight to 10 hours on a 6-kW charger or 80-percent in 40 minutes to an hour when hooked up to a fast charger).
While many North American consumers still consider small cars to be nothing more than inexpensive commuters, the production Urban EV will be priced closer to premium models. This is nothing new in the plug-in electric world, with some of the more popular challengers currently priced in the mid-$30k range before topping out in the high-$40,000s (less the BC government's $5,000 rebate).
Urban Ev Cabin Provides Impressive Digital Displays and Loads of Luxuries
Along with its cute-as-a-puppy allure, Urban EV customers will likely be treated to an upscale cabin that lives up to its premium price point. The concept includes a massive one-piece tablet-style digital gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen combination that spans the entire dash top, plus smaller secondary displays integrated into each door allowing enhanced sideview monitoring, beautiful wood inlays across the dash and doors, and even unusual loveseat-style front and rear bench seats with throw pillows and wooden side tables. No doubt the production version will bring things back down to earth with regular front bucket seats and a simpler rear bench, but it's possible something similar to the prototype's digital displays will stay.
Conceptual features we hope make the grade are exterior message boards integrated into the front grille and rear deck lid, which light up to say whatever you want to adjacent motorists or passersby, such as "hello" up front or "back off" from behind.
We also like the circular LED headlight surrounds that mimic the original Civic's incandescent headlamps, while the LEDs in the rear also look good, but we're not sure about cleaning the myriad white spokes on the alloy wheels, and would probably find the rear-hinged side doors difficult to live with too. The production model will likely come with conventionally hinged doors and smaller aluminum wheels.
New Convenience and Safety Oriented AI Tech Previewed in Innovative Concept
Conceptually, we like the idea of the Urban EV's Honda Automated Network Assistant (HANA), a concierge-type service introduced early last year as part of the brand's NeuV autonomous vehicle, that can store personal data for paying parking fees, charging credit cards at drive-thrus, and much more, while it also incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) for detecting the emotions behind a driver's judgments after which, based on that driver's previous choices, it can make new recommendations and potentially even take over when necessary. The Urban EV includes the Honda Power Manager concept as well, which is a smart system for home energy.
By 2030 Honda plans to have two-thirds of its vehicles fully or partially powered by electricity. This would include gasoline-electric hybrids like the Accord Hybrid, plug-in hybrids such as the Clarity, battery-electric vehicles like the Oregon- and California-market Clarity Electric, and fuel cell vehicles like the California-only Clarity FCV. Additionally, the third-generation 2019 Honda Insight Prototype was introduced at the Detroit auto show in January, with Accord-inspired styling in a slightly downsized plug-in package that should prove very popular for more reasons than just its good looks-it's also expected to be available throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Markets in mind, the production Urban EV isn't expected to be heading to North America due to its diminutive size, with Honda still believing that buyers in this part of the world prefer larger cars. If you like what you see, give us a call at (877) 860-5172 or drop by the Vancouver Honda showroom at 850 Southwest Marine Drive to let us know and we'll be sure to pass your enthusiasm on to Honda Canada.
Honda Clarity Plug-In and Accord Hybrid Available Now
In the meantime you can test-drive our amazing new 2018 Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid, or set up an appointment to experience the all-new 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid.