Honda’s Management Needed A Lot Of Convincing To Greenlight The e Prototype

The Honda e Prototype represents a rare case of a concept heading into production with arguably minimal changes but the road to the dealership was more difficult than it sounds, according to Kohei Hitomi, the model’s project manager.

Speaking to Autocar, Hitomi said that the development team had to overcome opposition from Honda bosses in order for Honda’s first all-electric model to get the green light.

There were many doubts in Honda’s management about the feasibility of a small-sized electric model and Hitomi and his team had to change their mind.

“The biggest battle was internal, where the team decided to actually develop a small-size electric vehicle, which everybody else in the company was against,” said Hitomi. “To get that through was probably the toughest battle.”

As is the case with most concept studies, Honda designed the production car ahead of the Urban EV concept, which was created to measure the public’s reaction.

“Many people, including management, had the opinion that to advance market share of electric vehicles, it is essential to overcome the negatives, the drawbacks of an electric vehicle, which is driving range,” Hitomi added. “To cover that, people were keen to put in a bigger battery. A bigger battery automatically means a bigger car, and a bigger car means a more expensive car. To say ‘no, we want a small car’ didn’t fit in their minds, and that was the resistance.”

“The positive feedback for the Urban EV concept car was certainly a breakthrough to convince internally that a small-size EV would make sense and be appreciated. I also tried to convince people that an EV is meant to be used in urban conditions, [where] the [small] size of the car is the most important aspect. That’s where it makes most sense. From that perspective, the small size is the most important aspect, so that was how we tried to convince people. The concept helped the production car to get approval, and the production car helped the concept to look like what it looked like,” Hitomi said.

The retro-styled Honda e Prototype is a near-production version of a small electric car that will offer a driving range of over 125 miles (200km) and a very eye-catching cabin, once it enters production later this year.

more photos...
  • Six_Tymes

    iv said this many times, and most people know its true. if one company took a chance and produced a concept to be almost an exact copy of the fantastic looking concept, such as this, both inside and out, it would become the companies largest seller ever. I strongly believe that. this design is one of those opportunities. HONDA are you listening?

    • Siddharta Gautama


    • Knotmyrealname

      You DO know that this is the production version? It’s a far cry from the concept.

      • SteersUright

        Sadly, you’re right. This is still cool, but just barely, where the concept was fantastic. Either way, given the absolute dearth of anything charming in the EV world, this is a very welcomed addition. And with RWD, I imagine making a fun-to-drive version shouldn’t be out of the question either.
        I’d certainly consider one of these for my around town errands.

      • Rocket

        Well, it’s a prototype, so it’s somewhere between concept and production. Based on recent Honda/Acura prototypes, it’s probably safe to assume it’s closer to the latter.

        • Knotmyrealname

          May it please the court that I share the above exhibit, which clearly shows parking sensors, number plate illumination, many carryover items on the instrument panel, and others that are clearly either in production or production ready. Apart from a few details like the illuminated ‘H’ at the front and maybe a couple of other items, it’s the car that will be tootling around EU and some Japanese streets.

          • Rocket

            You seem to be both agreeing and disagreeing. Like I said, closer to production than concept.

          • Knotmyrealname

            I assumed you meant the original concept. Understood.

  • Siddharta Gautama

    strongly agree!!!!! saw this live and its just amazing. i would buy it right away

  • Bash

    This and the gemini are the most and the only two small cars that I actually love.

    • jfalckt

      Isuzu Gemini?

      • Bash


  • ErnieB

    Please come back to being cool and build this .. please Honda.

  • Dennis Scipio

    I could care less.

  • EM1

    I would buy one but having RWD for the NE of the US might be challenging come winter.
    Once they double the range and add dual motors, take my check.

  • TheBelltower

    This could be a very good runabout. It’s like what a Mini ought to be, before they all got fat and sluggish.

  • jfalckt

    A bit of a shame the management obviously got scared and tamed it to be more generic, glad it’s got the go-ahead though.

  • astalavista
    • Knotmyrealname

      Honda are so averse to large wheels. Blimey, the largest on this car will be 17″. On your photoshop above, there would be no rear seat room, as most of the space would be taken up with wheel tubs. This is why I said since it was announced, that it will be a poor cousin to the concept.

    • assassingtr

      Then it would just look normal. The car is screaming retro inspired and it’s trying to get back some of that 90’s honda boxy and small wheels vibe. It’s pretty cool to me. Bigger wheels would be a much bigger cost.

  • Enter Ranting

    Honda, you’re going to sell billions of these. Now, hurry up and build the sporty coupe version you showed as a concept.

  • Amazing. Truly the very first legacy manufacturer to be bold in this new segment. I wish them success.

  • Ruel Lewis

    I think they could of sacrificed some range for a the sake of design.

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