A modern, first-gen Civic. Who would have thought we’d ever see this?

Honda has finally found its way again – the new Civic and new Accord look amazing and serve their purpose well, and the new Civic Type R is even coming to the U.S. for the first time. Needless to say, Honda is on a roll. Now, with auto show season kicking off, Honda decided to show up to the first big auto show with the Honda Urban EV Concept, a car that showcases Honda’s pride in its history and provides a glimpse at what we can expect from Honda in the future as it begins to transition deeper into the EV market. Basically a modern interpretation of the first-gen Civic (1972 – 1979), it features circular, LED headlights, an illuminated “H” up front, all the looks of the first-gen Civic, and an electric drivetrain that includes a high-density lightweight battery pack. It’s also nearly four inches shorter than the Honda Jazz, so there’s that.

With that in mind, it should be noted that Honda hasn’t released too much information on the concept or the production model that should see the light of day in Europe of 2019. But, if you look at the exterior look, we can say with near certainty that the production model will sport a similar look. The interior will likely find itself toned down a bit, but hey, we’re talking about an affordable vehicle here, so you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. Be that as it may, let’s take a good look at Honda’s newest concept and talk more about it.

Continue reading to learn more about the Honda Urban EV Concept.

Exterior

2017 Honda Urban EV Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Let’s not beat around the bush – this Concept features an exhausted design that dates back to the 1970s. It also features the same general design characteristics of the 1990 Volkswagen Golf GTI, as well. By that I mean, it’s got that boxy design with large stationary glass in the rear, and a near-vertical hatch in the rear. The Circular headlights are a nod to the Civic’s history as well and, while I’ve already criticized the concept by saying it’s possibly the ugliest thing in Frankfurt, the look is starting to grow on me.

Let’s not beat around the bush – this Concept features an exhausted design that dates back to the 1970s

One of the best things about this concept is the simplistic front end. Where other manufacturers are going out of their way to add in extras to make their electric models look cool or desirable, Honda when with a simple flat front fascia. It’s a little hard to get used to looking at, but when you consider all the cars out there with fake, pointless vents, this is actually quite refreshing. The front end features LED headlights that are surrounded by circular LED strips to hint at the first-gen Civic’s round lights. The Honda emblem is backlit with an attractive blue while the area around the emblem displays various messages to those in front of the vehicle.

2017 Honda Urban EV Concept AutoShow High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Honda Urban EV Concept AutoShow High Resolution Exterior
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The rest of the vehicle is defined by just a few styling cues. The front and rear wheel arches are dramatically flared, adding a bit of masculinity to the concept while the flat roof is refreshing in today’s automotive climate. Electric door poppers clearly take the place of traditional door handles while a pair of cameras replace the side view mirrors we’re all so accustomed to.

The entire shell of the body is exceptionally smooth including the rear fascia

Around back, things are just as simple with the flares around the rear wheel arches fading gently into the lower fascia. The entire shell of the body is exceptionally smooth including the rear fascia. The taillights and rear Honda emblem are recessed into the rear hatch and protected by glass. As you can see, red LED stripes make up squares around the LED strips in the center that will serve as turn signals, brake lights, and reverse lights. The Honda emblem is illuminated, and it looks like the rear hatch has the same message display system as the front end – that’s a nice touch. I can already see myself programming the phrase “get off my ass” so that I can warn the idiots that like to tailgate to back off.

2017 Honda Urban EV Concept AutoShow High Resolution Exterior
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I love the way the rear glass seems to just be a part of the rear hatch, and the fit between body panels on this vehicles is absolutely phenomenal. Even if you get the same initial impression that I did, the car being ugly and all, you can’t deny how much effort Honda put into making the concept look as good as possible. All told, the fit and finish of the body panels are better than you get from companies like Audi, Mercedes, BMW, or even Rolls-Royce and Bentley. That’s saying a lot for anything wearing an H-badge these days, but go ahead and try to deny it.

Interior

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Now, the exterior look could very easily carry over to the production model, but the interior, on the other hand, will probably change pretty drastically between now and the time it hits the streets in Europe. The most interesting part about the interior is that couch-like front bend that includes wood garnishing on the outside armrests. And, that plush looking carpet looks pretty nice too. Then you’ve got that massive display screen that pretty much runs the width of the dash. The wooden trim on the face of the dash is a nice touch and throws in a bit of natural contrast against the silver and chrome trim thrown around throughout the cabin. The steering wheel is a rounded but rectangular unit with a huge chrome ring around the inside and an offset stance, allowing the central hub to serve as the lower and only spoke.

A large panoramic roof will give riders a clean and unobstructed view of the night’s sky while the seating designs point toward full autonomous capability with the option to drive yourself from time to time

Visualization from the side view cameras is displayed on a rather long screen on each door trim panel, while the rest of the panel is made up of what appears to be a relatively long speaker. A large panoramic roof will give riders a clean and unobstructed view of the night’s sky while the seating designs point toward full autonomous capability with the option to drive yourself from time to time. It’s like someone has bridged new school with old school in all the right ways. Not bad.

As far as what we’ll see in the production model, well, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Something tells me that the interior of the production model will look quite different. Hopefully, a lot of what we see here carries over, but at this point, I’m highly doubtful. I’d love to see the sofa-like seating, carpeting, and even the wood trim carry over – that would make for one nice Honda. I suspect the big displays will be toned down and brought more in line with what’s currently on the market while the side view cameras are a bit iffy and really depend on regulatory approval. Some markets already have them, but last I checked you couldn’t find them in the U.S. or Europe, so we’ll probably be waiting for that feature as well.

Hopefully, a lot of what we see here carries over, but at this point, I’m highly doubtful.

All told, the wide-open nature of the cabin will make for optimal passenger space and comfort. Plus, it will allow for plenty of room for cargo, groceries, or dead bodies if that’s your thing. The simplistic but comfortable nature is quite nice, to say the least.

Drivetrain

2017 Honda Urban EV Concept AutoShow High Resolution Exterior
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As far as the drivetrain department goes, Honda has yet to say anything about what’s going on under the skin, so it’s quite possible that this thing doesn’t even have a functional system quite yet. Honda has promised that the production model would sport a new platform dedicated specifically to electric vehicles. It will include a high-density, lightweight battery that features integrated heat management for added safety and battery efficiency. Along with the Urban EV Concept, Honda also shed some light on a new Power Manager Concept that will redefine the way we use energy.

Honda also shed some light on a new Power Manager Concept that will redefine the way we use energy

To put it simply, the system will allow for more efficient energy storage and will even be able to supply your home or the grid with some extra power from renewable energy sources, like solar for example. If such a system made it into the production version of this concept, you could very well cut back on your home electric bill if you can really make use of the system.

As far as performance goes, mums the word. But, given the size of this thing, I wouldn’t expect it to have an incredible range. It may be able to house a battery large enough to deliver as much as 150 miles of range. That would keep it competitive with other subcompact EVs in the future and should make for a lighter car as well. This thing won’t be a street racer by any means, but given the nature of electric motors, it should still be pretty spunky. But, we’ll have to wait until we start seeing the production model to dive into specifics further, so keep your eyes open as 2019 really isn’t that far away in the grand scheme of things.

Conclusion

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With originally calling this concept out as the ugliest car in Frankfurt this year, I have no choice but to admit that the car has grown on me a bit. I’m still not a fan of small cars, and with the way the seating is set up entering and exiting may be a royal pain, especially for someone my size, but it’s really not that bad of a concept. What’s really more impressive is that Honda is jumping into the EV market quickly and efficiently, and if it does its job right, the Urban EV could turn out to be quite a success and serve as a basis for future EV models that are larger and more powerful. I wish we could know more about what’s going on under the skin, but it’s just a concept, so that doesn’t matter quite as much.

With that said, what do you think Honda will do to create the production model? Will we see a vehicle that looks eerily similar to this one or will it be changed a lot between now and then? What kind of power and range would you expect from a car like this? Let us know in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • * Just a concept for now
    • * What’s going on with the drivetrain?
    • * Not sure about that message system

Press release

Honda has revealed an all-new electric vehicle, the Urban EV Concept; which makes its global debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. The concept car is built on a completely new platform, and sets the direction for the technology and design that will appear on a future battery electric Honda production model.

2017 Honda Urban EV Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The concept was officially introduced by Honda Motor Co. President and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, during his press conference speech. “This is not some vision of the distant future; a production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019,” he added, confirming that the concept is set to be launched within two years.

Exterior design
Honda’s Urban EV Concept showcases advanced technology within a simple and sophisticated design. Its low and wide proportions give the car a planted, muscular stance that hint at sporty driving performance. Its compact proportions mean it has a total vehicle length 100mm shorter than the Jazz supermini.

The Honda emblem on the concept is backlit in blue, which previews a new styling feature for the company‘s future EVs. At the front of the car, interactive multilingual messages can be displayed between the headlights, including greetings, advice for other drivers on the road, or charging status updates.

Interior design
The driver’s outward visibility from the Urban EV Concept is excellent thanks to slim A-pillars and a wide windscreen that appears to sweep around the entire front of the car. Entry and exit from the vehicle is via rear-hinged coach doors. The electric charging cable connection is housed on the bonnet.

Honda’s Urban EV Concept can accommodate four occupants, across two bench seats finished in different materials. To create a lounge feeling, the front row is upholstered with natural grey fabric, with the seat backs, squabs and arm rests embellished with contemporary wood finish accents. The seatbelts for the rear bench are fixed in the middle of the seat, allowing the belt to retract out of the way before a passenger exits the car.

The same wood finish wraps around a large ‘floating’ dashboard console. This houses the steering wheel column, a set of simple control buttons, and a panoramic display screen. The dashboard itself is completed by a wrap-around screen that runs behind the console and extends into the doors. The main dashboard screen presents a range of vehicle information including remaining battery level. Whilst the extended door screens function as the car’s wing mirrors through digital camera displays.

Honda Automated Network Assistant concierge
Honda’s Urban EV Concept showcases the company’s vision for a world where mobility and daily life are seamlessly linked. The on-board advanced Honda Automated Network Assistant acts as a personal concierge, which learns from the driver by detecting emotions behind their judgments. It can then apply what it has learnt from the driver’s past decisions to make new choices and recommendations.

2017 Honda Urban EV Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Honda Power Manager
New methods for managing energy transfers between the grid, homes and electric vehicles could provide revenue opportunities for EV owners in the future. Honda’s Power Manager Concept, revealed alongside the Urban EV Concept in Frankfurt, is a smart system that can store energy more efficiently, releasing electricity generated by renewable sources back into the home or selling it back to the grid.

Electric Vision
Honda’s ‘Electric Vision’ strategy, launched at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, includes the development of a dedicated electric vehicle platform, featuring fully-electric powertrain technology. Key parts of the powertrain development will include a high-density, lightweight battery pack, integrated heat management and the evolution of energy transfer functions – both to and from the vehicle.

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Press release
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