Honda has big plans to electrify its line-up though, until recently, its emphasis has been on hybrids and PHEVs. But the automaker recently launched its little e minicar in Europe and Japan and is now showing off another all-electric concept at the Beijing Motor Show it’s billing as a preview of a production BEV to come.
The centerpiece of the Honda stand at Auto China 2020, Honda explained, “indicates the direction of a future mass-production model.” Unfortunately, additional details, including range and performance numbers, have not yet been revealed.
Shown in 3-door form, the E:Concept’s body falls somewhere between station wagon and SUV, with an aggressive design clearly meant to suggest it’s not just another “compliance car.”
As has become the norm with the latest generations of battery-electric vehicles, there’s no traditional grille. What little air is needed to cool the E:Concept’s motors and electronics comes in under the front bumper and through surprisingly large scoops directly in front of the wheels – though these appear to have a primary purpose of helping improve the BEV’s aerodynamics.
The aggressively raked windshield flows into a swept-back roof that, itself, wraps up with a small spoiler over the back hatch.
The headlamps are linked by a small light bar, a theme carried over at the back end. Honda adding a “back-lit emblem” in the rear.
While Honda isn’t talking about the drivetrain and battery pack, it has more to say about what it bills as an “omnidirectional ADAS” – or advanced driver assistance system – suite that uses radar and camera technology not only to look forward and back but side-to-side.
There’s also the “next-generation” Honda Connect infotainment technology which, in keeping with current industry trends, allows for future upgrades using smartphone-style over-the-air updates.
The Honda E:Concept also features a smart voice assistant, though it’s unclear if that’s a system Honda is developing or if the automaker might adopt one of the existing technologies, such as Amazon’s Alexa. Built-in WiFi would seem essential, as well.
Where the E:Concept will be produced and where it will be sold are two other questions Honda is yet to answer, though one can readily guess that at least one of the production versions will roll off a Chinese assembly line and target what has become the world’s largest market for BEVs.
Under its New Energy Vehicle mandate, manufacturers face tremendous pressure to offer all-electric and PHEV models. And Honda also must deal with the floor of competition from domestic EV brands like BYD.
The possibility that the E:Concept might also target Europe seems quite real as Honda has indicated it wants to add more all-electric products to follow this year’s launch of the Honda e mini-EV.
As for the U.S., Honda’s been more cautious about moving beyond its familiar hybrids and PHEVs such as the new CR-V Hybrid. But there’s more coming as part of the latest in an expanding series of joint ventures with General Motors. The Japanese automaker plans to launch two BEVs based on the new GM Ultium architecture that will reach U.S. showrooms by 2024.