The Geneva Motor Show kicks off on March 7, and one of the most eagerly anticipated cars this year is the Honda Urban EV, which first broke cover at the IAA Frankfurt motor show in 2017. Honda says it has been surprised by the expressions of interest in that concept and has been busy turning it into a real production car ever since.
So far as anyone can tell, Honda is targeting the Urban EV for the European market, as there have been absolutely no hints that it will make it to the US. But people in the UK can reserve one online now for delivery in early 2020, according to CAR Magazine. Details like price, range, battery size, and motor power are closely guarded secrets.
Two weeks ago, Honda released a teaser photo of the exterior. Today, it has posted photos of the interior of the 4-door, 4-passenger all-electric car. They show a digital dashboard with 5 — count them, five — screens. The three central displays show driving, infotainment, and charging information, according to AutoExpress. The two on either end are for the side view cameras that replace conventional mirrors. If the battery SOC graphic is accurate, the production car will be very close in appearance to the teaser photo from 2 weeks ago.
The Urban EV is intended to do for Honda in 2019 what the original Honda Civic did for the company in 1973 — open up a whole new marketing space. The original Civic was known mostly for low price and it is reasonable to assume that Honda wants to do the same with the Urban EV.
Those of you who owned an original Civic may remember it as a fairly crappy car with a spartan interior, tiny 12″ wheels, and a buzzy 4-cylinder engine, but at a time when gasoline prices were headed through the roof thanks to the first OPEC oil embargo, it offered 40+ mpg fuel economy. Frankly, there was nothing else on the road that could go as far and for so little money as the Civic.
I was part of a group of people who had planned a camping trip to Nova Scotia, but mine was the only car that could get to the Canadian border without stopping for gas. I went while the rest stayed home. Honda is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again with the Urban EV, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the original Civic. (No doubt, it will be far better built than its predecessor.)
In addition to the digital dashboard, Honda says the Urban EV will be able to recharge its battery to 80% capacity in half an hour. The company’s Honda Power Manager Concept may be baked into the new car as well. Introduced at CES 2019, it allows owners to manage how and when their car charges as well as sell power back to the grid at peak times using vehicle-to-grid technology. Honda has also been investigating wireless charging with WiTricity.
The biggest questions about the Urban EV are cost and range. On March 7, we should have the answers to those two important considerations. If Honda can bring this car to marked for $25,000 or thereabouts, it will need to build a new factory to meet demand. Remember, you heard it here first.