Honda e Prototype brings retro styling to the future of EV mobility

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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The other day, when reporting on the Citroen Ami One Concept, I suggested that the vehicle itself might not matter for mobility customers in the future. I was quite confident in this assertion. That was, until I laid eyes on the Honda e Prototype.

Now I find myself questioning everything.

That’s because this car is so fun I might well pick it over any other subcompact electric mobility box—the Ami One, for example—for no other reason than its styling. Maybe I had this mobility thing all wrong after all?

What’s Old Is New Again

Although just a prototype, the Honda e gives us a pretty good glimpse of what the manufacturer is considering for near future production. Here’s hoping that more manufacturers are willing to embrace a little fun and retro in their mobility futurism.(Honda)

 

Let’s start with the exterior of the Honda e Prototype. It has retro-y little round headlights. Honda says they give it a human face. I’m not so sure about that.

No matter how you interpret the round lights, they’re flank by a concave black plastic panel mimicking a grille that is mirrored at the rear of the car. The car is small but its design tries hide that. Its wheelbase is relatively large. And, in order to look muscular, it has flared wheel arches and wide tires. It’s not muscular looking without cause; the Honda e Prototype is rear-wheel drive.

Honda e Prototype also includes fun features like a panoramic windshield and a charge port mounted in the center of the hood covered by glass. LED lights beneath the glass port cover allow the owner to monitor the car’s charge level. And cameras replace the rear and side-view mirrors.

A Familiar Future

While the e Prototype might have ambitions of autonomous driving, the presence of a steering wheel makes us think drivers will still be able to have a go.(Honda)

 

My favorite part of the Honda e Prototype is the interior, the design motif of which I’d call ‘1990s future.’ Seating is covered in grey cloth that Honda designers used to invoke a lounge feel. The two-spoke steering wheel is slim and simple. And the bank of screens across the dash is trimmed in wood. It is extremely Honda. It is extremely fun.

Honda says it put so many screens on the dash so that occupants can “remain engaged with their connected lifestyle.”

This may be true. Looking a little further down the line, I could easily see this interior modified to lose the steering wheel entirely. After all, autonomous cars will someday forego pedals and steering wheels. So this design makes sense.

But Will It Make It

Are cars like the Honda e Prototype the bridge between current cars and our autonomous future or do they symbolize a car that will always exist? Meeting the needs of driving enthusiasts as well as functioning in a mostly autonomous world.

 

For those of you interested in this European market concept’s specs, the Japanese brand says the Honda e Prototype can receive 80 percent charge in 30 minutes when plugged into a ‘fast charge.’ And with its batteries full of electrons, it has a range of 126 miles.

Honda e Prototype might just be that—a prototype. However, Honda prototypes are typically a near-production look at future cars. Underscoring that, Honda reveals at the end of its press release that its coming compact urban electric vehicle will go into production in 2020.

So, if you like the looks of the Honda e Prototype, and you live in Europe, you might be able to buy a twee EV that looks much like this sometime next year.


About the Author

  • Nick Jaynes has worked for more than a decade in automotive media industry. In that time, he's done it all—from public relations for Chevrolet to new-car reviews for Mashable. Nick now lives in Portland, Oregon and spends his weekends traversing off-road trails in his 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

can be reached at nickjaynes@gmail.com
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