2017 IAA: Honda goes retro with its enchanting Urban EV concept

Article by Christian A., on September 21, 2017

Honda is showcasing the retro-inspired EV concept in Germany’s 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show which will last until September 24. The retro styled city car, which is also the Japanese car brand’s first production EV for the European market, is featuring a funky design with two rounded headlights akin to the hatchbacks from the seventies and eighties.

Beyond the wide-eyed front fascia and small dimensions comes a deep muscular stance that not only provides the Urban EV with sporty driving capability but also make it more stable for its size. If compared with the Honda Jazz supermini, the Urban concept will come out 100m shorter with its current length of 3,895mm.

Inside, the cabin features a wind screen with some thin A-pillars for better visibility and a couple of bench seats to make room for up to four occupants. There is also a large dashboard with wood veneer as well as a screen that wraps around the dash that goes throughout the hatchback’s two main doors. The main display provides specific information about the EV’s energy consumption, battery life and range status while the wrap around screen on both side of the doors work as the vehicle’s side mirrors with the help of the digital camera.

A cross between the current Jazz supermini and the 2nd generation Honda Civic 3-door hatch, Honda’s Urban EV may come with a very minimalistic interior and exterior but with highly advanced electric systems designed to meet Europe’s electrified future. In a recently held press conference, Honda’s President Takahiro Hachigo has stated that the Urban EV concept will in fact arrive in Europe in 2019 and is not a mere vision of what’s to come.

While the Japanese automaker will incorporate the blue backlit emblem on their upcoming EV production line as seen on the new concept, we have to admit the showcar’s interactive messaging system that displays real time updates of the charging stats with some form of greetings and advice to other motorists are quite unheard of. In any case, we’re hoping to see all of these come to life but instead of a four-seater capacity, we’re leaning towards a 5-seater compact car for the final version.

All said, Honda didn’t say anything much about the EV range but confirms that it will come with a high density light weight battery with heat management and energy transfer system. For the entire stretch of the two-week exhibit, the Urban EV will also be sharing the stage with Honda’s Power Manager Concept--- a built –in energy transfer technology that can deliver electricity to the main grid and from it as well. It also has the capacity to direct the flow of power from a renewable source while managing the EV’s battery in or out of the vehicle.

Press Release

Honda Urban EV Concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show

Honda has revealed an all-new electric vehicle, the Urban EV Concept, at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. The concept car is built on a completely new platform, and sets the direction for the technology and design that will appear on a future battery electric Honda production model.

The concept was officially introduced by Honda Motor Co. President and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, during his press conference speech. “This is not some vision of the distant future; a production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019,” he added, confirming that the concept is set to be launched within two years.

Exterior design

Honda’s Urban EV Concept showcases advanced technology within a simple and sophisticated design. Its low and wide proportions give the car a planted, muscular stance that hint at sporty driving performance. Its compact proportions mean it has a total vehicle length 100mm shorter than the Jazz supermini.

The Honda emblem on the concept is backlit in blue, which previews a new styling feature for the company‘s future EVs. At the front of the car, interactive multilingual messages can be displayed between the headlights, including greetings, advice for other drivers on the road, or charging status updates.

Interior design

The driver’s outward visibility from the Urban EV Concept is excellent thanks to slim A-pillars and a wide windscreen that appears to sweep around the entire front of the car. Entry and exit from the vehicle is via rear-hinged coach doors. The electric charging cable connection is housed on the bonnet.

Honda’s Urban EV Concept can accommodate four occupants, across two bench seats finished in different materials. To create a lounge feeling, the front row is upholstered with natural grey fabric, with the seat backs, squabs and arm rests embellished with contemporary wood finish accents. The seatbelts for the rear bench are fixed in the middle of the seat, allowing the belt to retract out of the way before a passenger exits the car.

The same wood finish wraps around a large ‘floating’ dashboard console. This houses the steering wheel column, a set of simple control buttons, and a panoramic display screen. The dashboard itself is completed by a wrap-around screen that runs behind the console and extends into the doors. The main dashboard screen presents a range of vehicle information including remaining battery level. Whilst the extended door screens function as the car’s wing mirrors through digital camera displays.

Honda Automated Network Assistant concierge

Honda’s Urban EV Concept showcases the company’s vision for a world where mobility and daily life are seamlessly linked. The on-board advanced Honda Automated Network Assistant acts as a personal concierge, which learns from the driver by detecting emotions behind their judgments. It can then apply what it has learnt from the driver’s past decisions to make new choices and recommendations.

Honda Power Manager

New methods for managing energy transfers between the grid, homes and electric vehicles could provide revenue opportunities for EV owners in the future. Honda’s Power Manager Concept, revealed alongside the Urban EV Concept in Frankfurt, is a smart system that can store energy more efficiently, releasing electricity generated by renewable sources back into the home or selling it back to the grid.

Electric Vision

Honda’s ‘Electric Vision’ strategy, launched at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, includes the development of a dedicated electric vehicle platform, featuring fully-electric powertrain technology. Key parts of the powertrain development will include a high-density, lightweight battery pack, integrated heat management and the evolution of energy transfer functions – both to and from the vehicle.

Source: Honda

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