Honda unveiled a 3D printed electric urban delivery van at the CEATEC electronics trade show last week.
Developed by Kabuku, a 3D printing company, for the Toshimaya, a cookie shop based in the city of Kamakura, where the narrow winding streets prove to be a real challenge for company's home delivery vans.
The van is built on the platform of the 2013 Honda MC-Beta concept car, a Renault Twizy-style urban commuting vehicle powered by a 6kW electric motor. The concept features a pipe frame developed by Honda's motorcycle division, and seats two people in a tandem layout.
For the Toshimaya delivery van, Kabuku developed a new body to sit atop the lightweight frame. The 3D-printed van has a body modelled on the Toshimaya sable-shaped biscuit, and the MC-Beta's rear seat has been replaced by a custom designed cargo bay.
Most of the car's body, including the front cowl, rear quarter section, and tailgate are 3D printed, with some parts, such as the car's badge, left a little rough and raw to show off how it was created.
According to Kabuku, it only took two months to develop this van. Although development time was dramatically cut, "costs do not fall so much when considering the cost of materials to output large parts and the cost of using a large 3D printer".
Although the Honda MC-Beta isn't in full scale production yet, it has been deployed as a government car sharing vehicle and a sightseeing rental vehicle in a number of Japanese cities.
The companies are hoping to acquire a small number of licences so that Toshimaya can use the 3D-printed car as a delivery van in its home town.
Just like the MC-Beta, the Toshimaya delivery van has a top speed of 70km/h and a range of 80 kilometres. Given its small size and low weight, the car's small battery pack takes just three hours to charge from mains power.
MORE: Honda news and reviews