Micro BEVs Unlikely a Near Future Product, Says Honda

The prospect of ever downsizing to micro BEVs for the urban environment is a very unlikely one.

That’s the opinion of Honda’s Kohei Hitomi lead designer of its first mass market BEV the Honda e. Speaking to TU-Automotive at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), Hitomi drew parallels with the debate decades earlier over urban diesel powertrains.

He said: “The smaller the cars, the higher to cost competition, of course, and maybe it’s a similar discussion that there had been regarding small car diesels. The diesel powertrain, for example, had suffered quite a lot when being considered for use in really small city cars because it was heavy, it was expensive and, for that target customer in the mini segment, was very cost competitive.”

The business model has to be right for any new powertrain configuration or the project cannot survive. Hitomi explained:  “So, there is always a healthy balance between the price of the car, the size of the car and also the features the car could incorporate. We believe, at the moment, this size of the car is appropriate to introduce the types of advanced technologies and it also justifies the cost-to-performance ratio.”

However, he accepts that, possibly at some time in the future, technological advances may change the business models carmakers are currently have to work towards. Hitomi said: “In order to realize the small or mini cars with electric propulsion there is, at the moment, not appropriate technology available on a high level of volume. This is something, of course, which will come up again in the future because battery technology is evolving in very quick steps but also all the other components are being developed at a high pace.”

Ultimately, Hitomi believes electrified powertrains will take over the bulk of vehicle propulsion, concluding: “One day we will find ourselves in that situation and that is certainly the point where the conventional powertrain will be replaced by an electric one.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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