The Honda Step Bus concept looks like a Japanese kei car that took a wrong turn in Tokyo and wound up in L.A. The tiny bus is all about making the most of its minimum space. The concept features sliding front doors so that entering and exiting the vehicle can be accomplished in even the tightest of spaces, and the seats inside (two captains, one rear bench) can be folded in various configurations to fit large and awkwardly shaped items. The Step Bus is also mid-engined and rear-wheel drive to boot, although the motor is a "small displacement power plant" according to the press release. No other mechanical details were released unfortunately.

The Step Bus does a good job of drawing on Honda's expertise with kei and other micro mini motors that make the most out of very little, while still managing evokes memories of jamming a buddy's VW Bus with your drum set. Like we said, it's a little kei in the USA. Whether the Step Bus would actually meet kei criteria is unknown (probably not, looks a bit too large), but we were still surprised and delighted Honda would debut such a diminutive vehicle in the U.S. rather than its home market.

Live shots, press shots and Honda's press release are all hanging out after the jump.


PHOTO GALLERY:





PRESS RELEASE:

Live Large in the Compact Honda Step Bus Concept
Styling concept takes 'man maximum, machine minimum' philosophy to the extreme

LOS ANGELES 11/29/2006 --

Designed around high energy lifestyles, the Honda Step Bus Concept represents the ultimate expression of Honda packaging prowess with a mid-engine design and a fully maximized and quickly adaptable interior.

The highly configurable, high-tech interior provides ultimate urban utility from the outside in. Sliding front doors with a space efficient design let people enter and exit in tight spaces. Although micro in exterior size, the cavernous interior can harbor large amounts of band equipment, sports gear and other bulky items.

"Following the traditional Honda theme of 'man maximum, machine minimum,' the Step Bus seeks to create the largest possible interior with the smallest possible exterior," said John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "This innovative concept vehicle shows how large functionality can easily exist within small vehicle packages."

The Step Bus Concept is a product of the Honda R&D Co., Ltd., Wako design center in Saitama prefecture, Japan. Purely a styling concept, the vehicle uses a mid-engine, rear wheel drive platform with a small displacement power plant. The 5-passenger interior features modular construction with a spacious interior. The modular construction is highlighted by tracks in the door that can hold beverage containers, cell phones and more. Advanced technology includes a next-generation navigation system. The tall body provides room for a ceiling-mounted storage tray. Painted in light green metallic, the body design embraces a bold vertical architecture style that creates a large presence within a small space.

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