Honda is making moves as if it is really serious to enter the electric arena. In Frankfurt 2017, Honda did have a long line of reporters for its concept mini car. That was something that mystified me, until I found that they also offered a trinket for the journalists (a popular drinking mug for the road). The mug paid in press attention.
This year, the Honda Urban Mini EV concept has evolved to close to a prototype. They say it might reach production this year. When it reaches production, it will get all the attention it deserves here on CleanTechnica. Now, however, it still looks too much like a design student’s final product for the exam commission. Nice, daring, impractical, and not for production.
That is not the verdict of the automotive press. The professional gearhead writers love it. They see a small urban toy of a car. Let me make this clear for every reader: In my eyes, it is not a car, it is a cart, like in “golf cart” or “shopping cart.”
Like the Smart, it will have a very limited market, because it is designed for a limited use case and is not very useful outside that use case. It is the market of the first-generation BEV from 2010–2014. But these models did not have the competition of fully capable cars with a 200+ miles range. Even as a compliance car, it might not earn enough credits to justify its production. I am mystified.
When you look at it, it mostly looks like the original Morris Mini. This can explain the hype around this car — it is close to an iconic youth memory for many people my age, rekindled by BMW reintroducing the brand as a far larger, but still smallish, somewhat weird luxury car for a cult following.
But unlike the original Mini, you will not see it swarming all over Europe with young people exploring foreign countries. It is too expensive and too limited in use with its tiny battery. Perhaps it can have a future in Japan as a Kei car. Here in Europe, we have learned our lesson with short-range EVs, like the VW e-Up, Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, Peugeot iOn, Citroen C-Zero, and Smart ED models.
Many beloved by the press, but not by the buying public.