Honda Urban EV concept is a retro-looking electric car built for the city

The Honda Clarity works hard to advertise its zero-emission powertrain using futuristic styling, but Honda went in the opposite direction for its all-electric concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Honda Urban EV concept looks like an homage to the first-generation Civic from the 1970s. But it’s actually a preview of a new electric car Honda plans to launch in a couple of years. Like those early Civics, the design emphasizes simplicity over flashiness.

With its flat front fascia, round headlights, and basic hatchback shape, the Urban EV concept’s exterior is anything but complex. The car’s low stance, short front and rear overhangs, and wide track give it a purposeful look, however. The Urban EV is slightly shorter than a current-generation Honda Fit.

Honda’s designers also exercised restraint when it came to the interior. There are virtually no controls on the simple dashboard, with most functions handled by a screen that runs the length of the dash and even extends onto the doors. You could say it takes the Tesla Model 3 dashboard-screen concept a step further.

Refreshingly for a modern design, the front pillars are very thin, enhancing outward visibility. Another touch not seen on many modern cars is a front bench seat in place of the more common bucket seats. The Urban EV concept also features rear-hinged suicide doors, like you might find on a Rolls-Royce Dawn, and cameras in place of rearview mirrors. The latter feature is becoming common on concept cars, but faces stiff resistance from regulators.

Honda did not provide any details on the powertrain, but it did note that the Urban EV concept is capable of discharging power from its battery pack into the grid, allowing the car to act as a mobile energy-storage unit. The concept is also equipped with the Honda Automated Network Assistant, a virtual concierge that “learns from the driver by detecting emotions behind their judgments,” according to Honda. This somewhat creepy-sounding feature can then make recommendations based on what it learns.

In a press conference at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo confirmed that a production version of the Urban EV concept will go on sale in Europe in 2019. Going forward, Honda plans to offer a hybrid or all-electric powertrain in every model it sells in Europe. The company hasn’t said whether it will sell the Urban EV in the United States, but, until then, there’s always the Accord.

Cars

Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…
Cars

Volkswagen is planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car will head to the Nürburgring for a lap-record attempt. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car with the I.D. R.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.
Outdoors

Is Uber planning to put its self-driving tech into bikes and scooters?

Uber reportedly has its eye on building autonomous electric bikes and scooters that ride to a user when summoned by an app. The technology could also be used to make its two-wheelers safer with obstacle avoidance systems.
Cars

Someone just paid supercar money for the very first 2020 Toyota Supra

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.
Cars

Lincoln’s stately, limited-edition flagship sedan sells out in a month

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.
Home Theater

Report: Spotify preparing to launch $100 in-car streaming device

According to a report, people familiar with Spotify's plans say the company is readying a dedicated in-car music streamer that will cost $100. It will work with any Bluetooth-enabled audio system and can be controlled by voice.
Cars

Tesla given go-ahead to start deliveries of Model 3 to Europe

Tesla has been given the green light to start deliveries of its Model 3 electric sedan to Europe, giving it the chance to compete more effectively with the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz in the region's premium car market.
Cars

Royal fans bid big money as Prince Philip ‘car crash parts’ hit eBay

A couple of days after a car crash that involved the 97-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, debris apparently from the scene of the accident showed up on eBay. And people wanted to buy it.
Cars

If Batman became a race car driver, he’d hit the track in the Vuhl 05RR

Mexican sports car Vuhl revealed the hardcore 05RR, a roadster that blurs the line between a track car and a street-legal car. The 05RR stands out with a design that looks right out of a video game and a 385-horsepower engine.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk offers to help dig CERN’s new particle collider tunnel

CERN plans to put the Large Hadron Collider to shame with its proposed much larger Future Circular Collider -- and Elon Musk wants to help. Because, you know, he's not busy enough.
Product Review

Cool tech and a great ride make the 2019 RAM 1500 the best light-duty pickup

The Ram isn’t the most powerful, spacious, or affordable of the light-duty, full-size pickup herd, but a modestly equipped version walks all over rivals in terms of ride quality, technology, and cabin comfort.
Cars

Hyundai has created the ‘world’s first multi-collision airbag system’

Around 30 percent of car accidents involve multiple collisions, a reality that prompted Hyundai to develop what it claims is the world's first airbag capable of deploying in a multi-impact traffic accident.