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Electric range ‘not the only attribute that reflects the value of the car’, says Honda e project boss

Motors | Published:

The brain behind all-electric Honda e says 136-mile range is a result of ‘finding a balance’

Electric range is ‘not the only attribute that reflects the value’ of the upcoming Honda e, the boss of the project has said.

Speaking to the PA news agency at the Frankfurt motor show, Kohei Hitomi, large project lead at Honda, explained why the car has a 136-mile maximum range between charges — despite other new EVs boasting 200+.

(Honda)

Hitomi said: “Our base research results showed that electric vehicles made the most sense in an urban environment, where we want to reduce the levels of local pollution. So our grand concept was that we wanted to build a city commuter as an EV, meaning the size of the car was a very essential aspect. That in some ways determines the size of the battery.

“Honda follows the man maximum, machine minimum principle, so we want to minimise the space used by the mechanicals in order to maximise the space and the freedom for the customer. So the size of the battery, the weight of the car, it is all balanced out in order to not waste energy.

(Honda)

“How often do you drive with more than one person in the car? How often do you travel long distances? Normally, you do not require such high battery capacity, so if you’re not utilising it you’re just wasting energy.

“The other thing is that we have to be careful with resources – mining the lithium, but also the recycling of the battery, it all requires energy. So the size of the battery also takes that into account, so as not to overdo it and have a battery that’s too big, instead finding a balance that treats our resources carefully.”

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Hitomi-san compared the e to smartphones, saying that battery size is dictated by the need for it to fit in your hand, adding: “No one buys an iPad instead of an iPhone just because they don’t want to charge every day, they buy the phone because it fits the way they use it and change their charging habit to fit.”

(Honda)

He admitted that for those who need larger range it might be a difficult sell, but believes “driving range is not the only attribute that reflects the value of the car”.

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“There is another smartphone analogy here.” He added. “I remember my old Nokia, the charge would last a week or more, but now, I rarely get through a whole day without needing to charge. But the added value my smartphone gives me is a totally new dimension.”

(Honda)

“Also, as infrastructure improves and we introduce new energy management and charging solutions, we believe driving range will become less of a talking point.”

Honda will bring the e to market in 2020, with order books now open. Prices start at £26,160 for base-spec models — rising to £28,660 for top-spec ‘Advance’ models. Buyers of the latter can expect their cars in Q1 next year, with base car owners receiving theirs in the summer.

It launches at a time the new car market is seeing an electric boom, with the Peugeot e-208, Vauxhall Corsa-e, VW ID.3 and Mini Electric all on the horizon — amongst others.

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