The firm believes the car’s retro design will give it an Apple-style appeal to customers.
It maintains the styling of the Urban EV, albeit with the addition of an extra set of doors. While Honda has yet to reveal full technical details of the car, its designers told Autocar at the Geneva show that it would offer “more than” 98bhp and 221lb ft of torque.
Honda has said there are more than 6500 people in the UK who have expressed interest in the e so far. Pricing has yet to be set, but Autocar understands a ballpark figure is £35,000.
Project manager Kohei Hitomi said the machine had been the subject of an internal “battle” over whether to put it into production, with the positive reaction to the concept being a key factor in it gaining approval.
The car is slightly shorter than the Jazz and around 100mm taller than the Mini hatchback. It is built on a new platform designed for A and B-segment electric cars, with underfloor batteries produced by Panasonic that are similar to those used in the US-market Accord plug-in hybrid. The rear-mounted electric motor drives the rear wheels, which employ torque vectoring to give a smoother response and improved handling in tight corners.
As well as featuring cameras instead of rear-view mirrors, there are also flush door handles to further boost aerodynamic efficiency, while the charging port is mounted centrally in the bonnet.
The cockpit of the e prototype is dominated by two 12in touchscreens, built into a dashboard finished with a wood-effect trim. The seats – including a two-seat bench in the rear – are covered in polyester, which, as with the wood effect, is designed to make the interior feel like a living room.
The e will be built in Japan and go on sale in selected European markets in late 2019, with others following in 2020. It will also be sold in Japan.
Hitomi said it is “important” the car is affordable but he added: “A low price is not always a guarantee of success. When you look at Apple products, they are not cheap, but everyone wants to have them because of their added value. We believe it is the same for the electric vehicle.”