Electrically driven micro-cars haven’t quite caught on yet. Smart has the ForTwo Electric Drive, an overpriced two-seater that’s even more impractical than its gas-powered sibling. Toyota has the iQ EV, an electric version that will only be released in extremely limited quantities, despite Toyota’s lofty goals to the contrary. And now Honda is coming out with its own all-electric runabout, the Micro Commuter prototype.
What sets Honda’s ultra-small city car apart is its platform and size. It’s built atop the automaker’s Variable Design Platform, which houses the battery, control unit and a 15 kW motor. It’s the “skateboard” design we’ve been promised for over a decade, allowing multiple interior and exterior configurations, with a body that’s removable and customizable. Want a two-seat targa-topped convertible one day and a small pickup the next? The Micro Commuter has you covered. It can start off as a one-seater, but can also fit two, riding in tandem, bobsled-style. Even better, with a minuscule footprint that’s eight feet long by four feet wide, it’s smaller than the ForTwo.
The Micro Commuter has a top speed of 50 mph and a 60 mile range from it’s lithium ion battery. According to Honda, a full charge takes three hours, and drivers can also sync up smartphones and tablets and use them as a battery meter, navigation system or back-up camera.
Honda is testing the Micro Commuter, “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.” Read: limited-use.
Evaluations are set to start in 2013 are part of a nation-wide initiative started by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation, and Tourism to look into small, electrically-powered vehicles best suited to urban environments. Honda hopes the car will fall under the “L7” category of regulations, making it a “quadricycle” rather than a motor car, if the production model hits Europe.