In a recent press release and YouTube video, Honda’s Design Studio in California gave us a peek at how the designed the upcoming Honda Prologue. It’s the first Honda vehicle to be designed mostly in VR. Jiro Ikeda, the project leader, assembled a team of creative young designers to create an SUV design that is fresh and modern while still being clean and basic — which Honda describes as “Neo-Rugged.”
“Designing the first volume Honda electric vehicle gave us more freedom than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, and we can stretch our imagination, especially in styling the front-end,” said Sang-Hyuk Ahn, a four-year exterior designer at Honda. “We envisioned Prologue with a longer wheelbase, shorter overhang, and capable tires to create sporty proportions and a stronger stance.”
In the video, they start off in the Honda Design studio with designers carving a clay block, just like traditional auto design. But, you see them scan it with lasers, which gives us a clue that something is very different. We then meet the project’s leader.
In the next cut, we see the results of the scan, with a designer experiencing the vehicle in the virtual world instead of in the normal real world where making physical objects is hard. We can see that the resulting design looks kind of like the Honda e, a small retro-inspired vehicle that’s not sold in the United States. The end result is a car that shares elements with GM (more on that below), but has a distinctly Honda look.
One of the biggest things they gained using VR was the ability to work together despite some designers being in the United States and others in Japan. This allowed the development to move faster and easier. The challenges of COVID made this more important than ever.
Another advantage to this approach is that you could look at designs in what appears to be the real world. What could look good in a design studio might not look as good on the street or in the wilderness. Honda got to see its design in virtual versions of all of these environments, which helped make the design better for all situations.
On top of that, they were able to better design it for aerodynamic efficiency and low wind noise, both important factors for EVs.
“We were able to see Prologue in digital environments that truly resemble the real world,” said Marco Tan, VR and CG designer with Honda Design. “By simulating and evaluating colors, materials, and even lighting in a virtual 3D environment we were able to explore possibilities that took styling to a higher level.”
This effort is part of a new electrification strategy at Honda. To get things started faster, the company is working with GM to release the Prologue EV in 2024. Next, it is going to release vehicles on its own EV platform in 2026. The next year (2027), Honda plans on releasing a new affordable EV in a second partnership with GM.
Honda plans to release more information in the coming days about the vehicle’s specifications, but expect it to be similar to GM’s upcoming Equinox EV (details on that are also coming soon).
Featured image provided by Honda.
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