Honda is developing and/or already selling vehicles with hydrogen, natural gas and hybrid powertrains. But when it comes to pure electric vehicles, the company only offers a limited palette. In the US, that means the small-scale Fit EV project. In Japan, it now means the just-announced Micro Commuter Prototype (and more of the Fit EV project).

The new Micro Commuter is a low-ish-speed EV (it can only go up to 50 miles per hour) that has a 60-kilometer (37-mile) range from a li-ion battery of unspecified size that can recharge in three hours. The car is also tiny, spanning just eight feet, two inches long by four feet, one inch wide. That makes it smaller in both footprint than the Smart Fortwo. It seats one, but can be reconfigured to seat two, tandem style.

The potential scope for the Micro Commuter is also small, at least for now. Honda is testing the EV, "in various uses including supporting everyday short-distance transportation for families with small children and for senior citizens, home delivery services, commuting and car sharing." The big idea here is Honda's Variable Design Platform, which allows different configurations to be placed on top of a platform that contains the battery, control unit and 15-kW motor. Other futuristic touches, like using your own tablet computer as a battery meter or backup camera display screen, are being considered.

Honda will start testing the Micro Commuter in 2013 as part of an initiative spearheaded by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The car is also being developed with an eye on L7 category (quadricycle) regulations in Europe. An earlier version of the Micro Commuter was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2011.
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Honda Unveils Micro-sized Electric Vehicle "Micro Commuter Prototype" - Demonstration Testing Begins in 2013 Using Vehicles that Adopt the "Variable Design Platform" -

TOKYO, Japan, November 13, 2012 - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today unveiled the Micro Commuter Prototype, a micro-sized short distance EV commuter. This vehicle was developed 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 as well as for the regulations for the L7 category*1 in Europe.

Using vehicles based on this prototype model, Honda will begin demonstration testing in Japan in 2013. The demonstration testing will verify the potential of the vehicle in various uses including supporting everyday short-distance transportation for families with small children and for senior citizens, home delivery services, commuting and car sharing.

Advancing the Micro Commuter Concept that was first introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show 2011, this prototype model realized a cabin space to seat one driver and two children*2 in the micro-sized body.

The adoption of the Variable Design Platform 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. This made it comparatively easier to develop and produce a body and interior that accommodates various uses and customers' needs than existing vehicles.

Other features of this model include 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. Moreover, Honda is continuing research of onboard solar cells to provide solar energy to assist the driving.

Furthermore, through collaboration with the Honda Smart Home System (HSHS) that has already begun demonstration testing in the city of Saitama in Japan, Honda is planning 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.

Striving to continue proposing next-generation mobility products which expand the joy and fun of mobility while minimizing the environmental footprint, Honda will remain committed to proactive research and development of such technologies and products.
*1 One of the motorcycle categories in Europe. An EV in this category must weigh 400 kg or less excluding the weight of the battery and have output of 15 kW or less.
*2 By changing the rear seat, it is possible to seat one driver and one adult passenger.

Key Specifications of Micro Commuter Prototype
Vehicle size (length × width × height) 2,500 × 1,250 × 1,445 (mm)
Maximum speed 80 km/h
Maximum range Approximately 60 km
Charging time Less than 3 hours
Battery type Lithium-ion battery
Maximum output 15 kW

* Honda plans to make necessary adjustments to comply with relevant laws and regulations.

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