The 2013 Honda Micro Commuter prototype has been unveiled in Tokyo, symbolising the beginning of a new phase in the Japanese manufacturer's electric vehicle development.
The second-generation prototype trades many of the futuristic elements of the original Micro Commuter concept from 2011's Tokyo motor show, replacing them with a more practical, user-friendly design intended to be suitable for use on public roads.
Honda plans to begin testing the pint-sized Micro Commuter in Japan next year, establishing the potential of the short-range EV in a number of different environments and conditions, with a view to launching a new zero-emission production car suitable for Japan and Europe in the coming years.
At 2500mm long, 1250mm wide and 1445mm tall, the Honda Micro Commuter is 195mm shorter, 309mm narrower and 97mm lower than the Smart Fortwo.
A lithium-ion battery positioned under the floor spins a 15kW electric motor, which propels the sub-400kg Micro Commuter to its 80km/h top speed.
Honda says the prototype has a range of approximately 60km and can be recharged in less than three hours.
The Honda Micro Commuter features a McLaren F1-style central driving position, and can be arranged to accommodate either two children or one adult passenger in the rear.
Connecting an iPad or similar tablet device to the dashboard gives the driver access to all of the vehicle’s internal functions, including instruments and meters, audio, navigation and reversing camera display.
Solar cells on the roof recharge the tablet’s battery, and Honda says it is investigating the potential to harness solar energy to enhance the Micro Commuter’s driving performance.
Honda believes low-range EVs like the Micro Commuter have the potential to revolutionise personal transportation for a number of road users, including families with small children, senior citizens, home delivery services and car-share users.