Honda is testing the public’s appetite for very small urban electric vehicles.
Its latest attempt is its recently unveiled “Micro Commuter Prototype,” at tiny, short-distance commuter.
Honda says this vehicle was developed in consideration of micro-sized mobility products currently being discussed under the initiative of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Japan, as well as for the regulations for the L7-category in Europe.
The L-7 category is one of the motorcycle categories in Europe. An EV in this category must weigh less than 400 kg excluding the weight of the battery and have an output of less than 15 kilowatts.
Using vehicles based on this prototype model, Honda will begin demonstration testing in Japan in 2013. This will allow the company to verify the vehicle’s potential in various uses including supporting everyday short-distance transportation for families with small children and for senior citizens, home delivery services, commuting and car sharing.
This prototype model has a cabin space with seating for one driver and two children in the micro-sized body. By changing the rear seat, it is possible to change the limited –capacity combo to one driver and one adult passenger.
The adoption of an architecture Honda calls the Variable Design Platform allows it to place components such as the battery, motor and control unit under the floor and in the rear space. This allowed Honda engineers to concentrate the vehicle driving functions into a compact area.
This way of positioning various components makes it comparatively easier to develop and produce a body and interior that accommodates various uses and customers’ needs compared to existing vehicles.
Other features Honda included in this model are the use of a user-owned tablet device for the application of functions such as meter display, navigation, audio and back-up camera display, and the ability to charge the tablet’s battery using solar cells mounted on the vehicle’s roof.
Honda is also continuing research of onboard solar cells in hope of providing solar energy to assist the driving.
Through collaboration with the Honda Smart Home System (HSHS) that has already begun demonstration testing in the city of Saitama in Japan, Honda is planning to verify the CO2 reduction effect from the optimized energy management in everyday life. It will also assess the values this vehicle can provide for customers when used not only as an electric vehicle but also as a household battery in a smart grid arrangement.