Honda recently debuted a micro-sized, short distance electric vehicle commuter.
Known simply as the Micro Commuter Prototype (at this point), the vehicle is based upon a variable design platform, allowing it to be configured for multiple uses for consumers as well as commercial fleets.
The Japanese automaker first unveiled its Micro Commuter idea at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, and has done some significant work on its concept since then, including realizing a cabin space to seat one driver and two children in the micro-sized body. In this body it positions components such as the battery, motor and control unit under the floor and in the rear space to "concentrate the vehicle driving functions into a compact space."
The Micro Commuter, which will begin demonstration testing in Japan next year, also includes "the use of a user-owned tablet device for the application of functions such as meter display, navigation, audio and back-up camera display, and the ability to charge the battery of the tablet using solar cells mounted on the vehicle roof."
In a further nod to solar energy, Honda is aresearching onboard solar cells which could help keep the battery at least partially charged like regenerative braking currently does on modern day electric cars.
Also being planned by Honda is the tying of this small electric car into its Smart Home System (HSHS) that has already begun demonstration testing in the city of Saitama. The is apparently looking to "verify the CO2 reduction effect from the optimized energy management in everyday life and the values this vehicle can provide for customers when it is used not only as an EV but also as a household battery."
Technical specifications at this point in the Micro Commuter’s development showcase an electric car making use of a lithium-ion battery and a maximum output of 15 kW. Charging time for the battery is said to be less than three hours, and one could get a driving range, depending upon conditions, of up to 37 miles or so. Top speed is around 50 miles per hour.
As for why this vehicle is being developed, Honda said it is in consideration "of the vehicle categories for micro-sized mobility products that are currently being discussed under the initiative of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Japan." It also is being thought of for Europe to fit regulations of the L7 category there, which is a motorcycle category that also sets guidelines for certain sized EVs.