In July, we sang the praises of the Honda E, the company’s first attempt at a mass produced battery electric vehicle. Packed into a diminutive package with styling that harks back to the original Civic, the Honda E is clearly meant to be an urban runabout that can scoot through the heaviest traffic and park in the smallest available space. It’s cool and kicky and everyone who sees it just wants to give it a hug.
Inside, the Honda E is packed with digital goodies, starting with an array of 5 screens that span the entire width of the car, including two that replace the traditional side view mirrors, an innovation that is surely coming just as soon as regulators approve of the idea. Voice commands are included to control certain functions, freeing the driver of such mundane tasks as adjust the volume of the sound system. The included My Honda+ app provides instantaneous notifications about the location of chargers and battery status. It also permits remote operation of the heating and cooling systems.
The question on everyone’s lips for the past few months has been, “OK. The car looks really interesting. I might actually want a car like this. How much is it going to cost me?” And the answer is…….plenty. Bear in mind that the Honda E only has a 35.5 kWh battery, which gives it a fairly modest range of 137 miles. It comes in two versions, one with a 152 horsepower motor and the other with a 134 horsepower motor.
Are you sitting down? UK prices for the Honda E are as follows: £29,660 for the less powerful version; £32,160 for the more powerful version. For Americans, that translates to US$36,700 and US$39,800. Keep in mind that a.) this car is not coming to the US, and b.) significant electric car rebates are available to UK customers. The top line car can be leased in the UK for £299 a month.
Engadget points out that the Renault Zoe costs a few hundred pounds less than the Honda E but comes with a much larger 52 kWh battery and 182 mile range. The Nissan LEAF costs several thousand pounds more but has a 62 kWh battery.
What does it all mean? It means that the Honda E is not the low priced urban street fighter many people were hoping for. It’s small. It has limited range but can be charged from 10 to 80% in 30 minutes. And it comes with a premium price tag.
Will people pay what Honda is asking for the car? We’ll find out when sales begin in about a year from now. In the meantime, the quest for more affordable electric cars continues.