Honda has shown another plan for a dedicated electric vehicle that serves as an indicator that the Japanese automaker is serious about EVs and AI, all while embracing some of its heritage when it comes to design.
The Honda Sports EV Concept shown Tuesday at the Tokyo Motor Show is a companion to the Urban EV Concept shown in September at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. While that Frankfurt show car recalled some of the earliest Honda hatchbacks from the 1970s, the Sports EV is meant to go back even further to the first cars Honda produced, including the S600 and S800 coupes that competed with MGs and Triumph sports cars of the 1960s.
Yet, under the sports car body, the Honda Sports EV Concept hides some of the same technology as the Urban EV concept that’s already set for production in 2019. Honda is using these EV concepts to showcase some of the AI the automaker wants to incorporate into future models, “with the aim to realize the joy of driving the user can feel with a sense of unity with the car,” according to Honda.
In other applications, Honda envisions AI being used to monitor driver reactions and emotions, as well as making performing functions through voice command more intuitive. That could also mean AI is coming to some of the company’s production models within the next decade as an extension of its current driver assistance technologies.
While the little Urban EV is earmarked for sale in Europe and Asia in the next couple of years, it’s unlikely to land in the US. Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo told Automotive News Europe Tuesday the Mini-sized Urban EV would likely not be suitable for the American market. That currently leaves the US with the Clarity EV large sedan and its 80-mile range.
The Sports EV is uncertain to go on sale in any market now; company officials are looking at it as more of an experiment to test reaction to the design. Honda isn’t the first name people think of when it comes to EVs, and it’s already falling behind on promises to embrace electrification to the same extent giants like General Motors and Volkswagen have.
As compelling as Honda’s EV and AI technology may be when it finally rolls out, it needs to be wrapped in a package as cool as the Sports EV Concept.