The big Tesla news is that a new small hatchback is being developed for Europe and possibly the US. But Honda’s new Honda e is already that EV. Just released, it’s a city car that’s not stripped or compromised. So Honda already makes the EV Tesla wants to build. But there’s a big difference to Honda’s approach than the way Tesla and others do EV.
The Honda e has a range of around 137 miles
All of the car companies feel range anxiety is the vexing problem around EV adoption. So 300-400 mile ranges between charges are required in most circles. But not Honda’s. The Honda e has a range of around 137 miles. That’s less than half of what everyone feels is needed. What’s up with that?
“Most EVs use large capacity batteries. But often, much of that capacity goes unused during city driving,” says Tomofumi Ichinose, chief engineer of the Honda e. “We question whether larger vehicles are appropriate for urban areas, and believe that smaller is a better option for cities.”
There are two good reasons For Honda to go this route
There are two good reasons to go this route. The first is that batteries are expensive. So if less are used and the savings are passed onto the customer then it is cheaper. If you need a city car then it will spend most of its time making small jaunts to and from the home charging port. Why do you need a bunch of heavy batteries for that?
The second reason is weight. Batteries are heavy. If you drive a car with less batteries you’re lugging around less weight. That can extend range and functionality. So that’s the other reason that this could be a smart move on Honda’s part.
Tesla is shooting for a small hatch at the same price that the Honda e sells for
The price point that Tesla is shooting for with its small hatch is the same price that the Honda e sells for in Europe. That would be $39,000. Though not inexpensive, it comes in much lower than the Tesla Model 3 most people order. Yes, you can get a standard Model 3 for around $37,000 if you order that specific Tesla, but few do. Options drive the price well past that figure.
As a city car engineers took a different approach when developing the Honda e. Sharp turning radius for narrow street U-turns was one. Crisp handling was another. And, there are no side mirrors to break off. Instead, interior displays provide side views to the rear.
Honda did a great job of hiding the other two doors
Then there is the design itself. Honda went retro harkening back to its early N360 and N600 models from the 1960s. However, it is not as small as those almost micro-car-like Hondas were. And while it looks like a two-door Honda did a great job of hiding the other two doors. Yes, this is a four-door.
Already available in Europe it will soon be available in Japan, too. It expects to sell about 10,000 annually in Europe and around 1,000 in Japan. The e will be part of Honda’s car-sharing fleet in Japan as well.
There are no plans to launch it in the US or China as Honda is convinced SUVs are the only vehicles that sell well in those two countries. We wish they would give it a try in a few large American cities just to see.