New Honda e: side cameras confirmed for electric city car
BMW i3 rival will feature cameras instead of wing mirrors as standard; reservations open with £800 deposit
Honda has confirmed that its new electric city car, the Honda e, will feature side cameras in place of wing mirrors as standard when deliveries start in 2020.
The Urban EV concept, first revealed at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, featured the camera system, which Honda claims reduces aerodynamic drag by around 90% compared to conventional wing mirrors. The firm says that improves the efficicency of the entire vehicle by 3.8%, playing a significant role in maximising range.
The camera system will feature two modes: a normal mode, and a wide mode with an extended field of view, and Honda claims they reduce blind spots by at least 10% compared to normal mirrors. A special water-repellent coasting will be used to stop water blocking vision.
Honda recently opened up ordering for the e, ahead of first deliveries beginning next spring.
Those customers will be invited to place a full order later this year. The car’s pricing is still yet to be announced, but as with most reservations, the fee is refundable if buyers change their mind.
A near-production version of the e was shown at this year’s Geneva motor show and dubbed the Honda e prototype. The car maker has confirmed that name will stay for the production version, and revealed a selection of available paint options for customers at launch.
The firm believes the car’s retro design will give it an Apple-style appeal to customers.
The prototype shown at Geneva motor show is “95% production ready”, according to the firm. It maintains the styling of the Urban EV Concept, albeit with the addition of an extra set of doors. While Honda has yet to reveal full technical details of the car, its designers told Autocar at the Geneva show that it would offer “more than” 98bhp and 221lb ft of torque.
Honda said there have been more than 6,500 people who have expressed interest in the Honda e in the UK. Pricing has yet to be set, Autocar understands a ballpark figure is £35,000.
Project manager Kohei Hitomi said the machine had been the subject of an internal “battle” over whether to put it into production, with the positive reaction to the concept being a key factor in it gaining approval.
The car is slightly shorter than a Jazz and around 100mm taller than a Mini. Honda has said it will likely have an official range of around 125 miles, with fast-charging capacity to reach 80% charge in 30 minutes.
The e prototype is built on a new platform designed for A and B-segment electric cars, with underfloor batteries produced by Panasonic that are similar to those used in the US market Accord plug-in hybrid. The rear-mounted electric motor drives the rear wheels, which employ torque vectoring to give a smoother response and improved handling in tight corners.
Although the e prototype’s range is substantially lower than that offered by rival EVs such as the 282-mile Kia e-Niro or BMW i3, which offers 193 miles, Hitomi said it was necessary to keep the batteries small to fulfil its city-car role.
“We believe the range is sufficient for this segment of car,” said Hitomi. “Some potential customers might not be satisfied, but when you think about bigger range and a bigger battery, it has drawbacks in terms of packaging. It’s a balance.”
As well as featuring cameras instead of rear-view mirrors, there are also flush door handles to further boost aerodynamic efficiency, while the charging port is mounted centrally in the bonnet.
The cockpit is dominated by two 12in touchscreens, built into a dashboard finished with a wood-effect trim. The seats – including a two-seat bench in the rear – are covered in polyester, which, as with the wood effect, is designed to make the interior feel like a living room.
The e prototype will be built in Japan and go on sale in selected European markets in late 2019, with others following in 2020. It will also be sold in Japan.
The firm has yet to set pricing. Hitomi said it is “important” the car is affordable but he added: “A low price is not always a guarantee of success. When you look at Apple products, they are not cheap, but everyone wants to have them because of their added value. We believe it is the same for the electric vehicle.”
Source: Autocar Online