The retro-styled Honda Urban EV Concept enjoyed an enthusiastic reception in 2017 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Since then, the question on everyone’s lips has been when would Honda finally put it into production. The answer came earlier this year when the automaker confirmed that a production version inspired by the cute study would arrive in 2019.
Well, it looks like Honda is sticking to its word, as an Urban EV prototype has been spotted for the first time on public roads. While completely wrapped in camouflage, the small electric vehicle bears a striking resemblance to the namesake concept car.
The production model has five doors instead of three, becomes a five seater
There are some important differences, however. The production model takes practicality more seriously as it adds a pair of rear doors. Another big difference is that all doors are front-hinged as opposed to the study’s suicide doors.
Practicality-driven “compromises” also include the switch from a four-seat layout to a five-seat configuration but chances are no one will complain about that.
The more practical approach doesn’t necessarily mean the Urban EV will compromise on styling, though. As the photos reveal, all doors have frameless windows and integrated door handles. If you can’t spot those on the rear it’s because they are “hidden” at the lower end of the C-pillar.
The cute retro styling remains and is sprinkled with futuristic details
Interestingly, the Urban EV prototype has kept the concept’s rearview cameras and the photographers also noticed that the inside rearview mirror was digital. The round LED headlights also look identical with those of the study, but Honda designers seem to have had a change of heart when it comes to the taillights. They replaced the concept’s square units with round LED lights that echo the design of their front counterparts.
As for the interior, the good news is the big screen will remain on the production model. Sadly, we can’t see anything else inside because of the tinted windows. Honda remains secretive about the Urban EV’s powertrain too. We do know, however, that the car is based on a new dedicated electric platform. Rumor has it the driving range will be of around 250 kilometers (155 miles).
Honda will position it as a premium vehicle so you better start saving right now
Besides being Honda’s first all-electric model to go on sale in Europe, the Urban EV will be significant for all the EVs Honda will bring to market in the future. That’s because the electric supermini will set the tone for the technology and design of Honda’s upcoming electric lineup.
As it usually happens with trailblazer models, it won’t come cheap. It may have the footprint of a supermini but that doesn’t mean the Honda Urban EV will be an affordable electric car. Autocar quotes Honda UK managing director Dave Hodgetts as saying the Urban EV will be positioned as a premium model.
What that means in terms of pricing is anyone’s guess but it will likely be significantly more expensive than similar-sized volume models such as the Renault Zoe.
Honda will start production of its first all-electric model for Europe in the second half of 2019. That means the Urban EV should be revealed earlier than that – the Geneva Motor Show in March looks like the ideal venue for the car’s public debut.
The carmaker will begin taking orders in early 2019 for Europe, with first deliveries coming late 2019. The Urban EV will also be available in Japan from 2020 but Honda made no announcement on U.S. availability so far.
*Update: New photos and information have been added to this article