Honda’s actions to date regarding electric vehicles have been perplexing, perplexing mostly because the company doesn’t seem to have done much of anything despite its great resources.
The company does reveal concept cars every once and awhile though … including the recent reveal of a mostly 3D-printed, customizable electric vehicle concept, following the Paris Motor Show.
Honda’s new Variable Design platform for micro EVs, as it’s known, is intended to allow the company to “offer a vehicle with a customizable layout where drivers can choose what they need. That could be lowered entry points at the doors for senior drivers, a hatchback trunk for delivery vehicles or space for a family of three.”
Engadget provides more: “I was a bit skeptical of the idea of an entire vehicle built from 3D-printed panels, but a Honda spokesperson outlined how the company took design and engineering know-how from its motorcycle division, resulting in a light but safe pipe-based skeleton under the paneling. This is apparently what gives the ‘micro commuter model’ structural integrity. The company had some assistance from design firm Kabuku, which put a bird on it — on the hatchback trunk, as well as the doors and seat. The car mostly has that familiarly, rough 3D-printed surface to it, but despite being the early first step in Honda’s efforts to offer a heavily customizable electric vehicle, today’s prototype could very much move. A handful of journalists and businessmen got to sit inside and drive it very briefly around a corner in a faux-Japanese village.”
It’s hard to know what to make of this. Honda certainly could have created an all-electric competitor to the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt years ago (and now Bolt as well). But it didn’t. Instead, it occasionally revealed concept cars/platforms such as this. Will 3D printing ever be a major means of manufacturing cars, whether electric or otherwise? I’m very skeptical that it will be. A great marketing strategy for sure … but not economical in any real way with current or foreseeable technologies.
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