Honda e revealed in production guise, specifications confirmed
Eagerly awaited electric city car to debut at Frankfurt next week
The Honda E will offer two power outputs, 134bhp and 152bhp, both of which produce 232lb ft of torque and deliver 0-62mph in around 8sec.
The highly anticipated electric city car, first unveiled as the Urban EV concept two years ago, has finally been revealed in production form, along with more specification details, ahead of its debut at the Frankfurt motor show.
There are only two visual changes between the prototype seen at the Geneva motor show in March and the final production car: the grille badge is not illuminated as this feature is illegal in Europe and the side skirt no longer says ‘Honda Design’.
The Japanese car maker is heavily investing in electrified models, having been initially slow to adapt. The CR-V hybrid launched last year, but this is Honda’s first electric car for Europe and is set to become its ‘halo’ model, given its advanced technology and price. By 2025, Honda intends for all of its European models sold to be electrified.
Both power outputs of the Honda E promise up to 137 miles of range from its liquid-cooled 35.5kWh battery, significantly less than rivals such as as the 282-mile Kia e-Niro and 193-mile BMW i3, but considered by Honda to be sufficient for the city car segment.
Project manager Kohei Hitomi told us earlier this year: “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 and balance.”
Fast charging at 100kWh means an 80% charging in 30 minutes, claims Honda, while a 50kWh charger will manage the same in 36 minutes.
The rear-mounted electric motor drives the rear wheels, which employ torque vectoring, intended to give a smoother response and improved handling in tight corners. The car rides on four-wheel independent suspension. The new machine boasts a 50:50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity, thanks to the placement of its batteries low within its wheelbase.
Early signs are positive: our deputy editor James Attwood drove a prototype recently and wrote: “It’s in the corners where the E really scores… showcasing an agility and responsiveness.”
The model uses cameras instead of side view mirrors as standard, a first for the compact segment. The system, which projects live images to two 6in screens, reduces aerodynamic drag by 90%, claims Honda. That is said to improve the efficiency of the entire vehicle by 3.8%, playing a significant role in maximising range.
It has two modes: normal and wide with an extended field of view, and Honda claims they reduce blindspots by at least 10% compared to mirrors. A special water-repellent coating will be used to stop water obscuring the driver’s vision.
There are also flush door handles to further boost aerodynamic efficiency, while the charging port is mounted centrally in the bonnet.
Inside, there is a full width five-screen digital dashboard, dominated by two 12.3in LCD touchscreens, which allow control of connected infotainment services. They are 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.
Artificial intelligence uses machine learning to understand an individual’s voice over time, so that response to voice commands grows in accuracy.
The firm believes the car’s retro design will give it an Apple-style appeal to customers. Hitomi has previously said the car has 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.
Order banks for the Honda E, which is expected to be priced from £30,000, open in October, ahead of deliveries in spring 2020. Factoring in the government’s £3500 plug-in grant, its set to cost £26,500, almost £1500 more than rival, the electric Peugeot e-208.
Hitomi has 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