The Honda Urban EV, now E Prototype, soon to be something else, has been the subject of my infatuation since it was first revealed. But it’s always been tinged with negativity because it shows that Honda are still refusing to accept that EVs are anything more than urban runabouts, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary.
I know that many EV fans don’t like this car and don’t get why it’s cool. I can understand that point of view, but I also take issue with it. While I am frustrated with Honda and others and their approaches, there’s nothing wrong with this type of car. It’s not a Zoe competitor as some have suggested. It’s a special, premium, unique car for people who want something out of the ordinary. It’s a future design classic. It’s a car that makes people happy when they see it.
The other aspect I take issue with is criticism of the range of the car. Let’s be clear, a compliance car like the Fiat 500e this is not. It has double the range, it has CCS charging (even if it’s just 50 that’s still fantastic). Whether Honda are in the wrong in their general EV strategy is another topic. If you take this car by itself, there’s nothing wrong with it. It has around 125 miles of real range according to WLTP (which I consider pretty accurate to how I drive). That’s a lot. Combining that with CCS and it’s a capable car for what the majority of people are going to need.
EV drivers move on from their first 80 mile EV to a Kona or something, and they forget that those cars work well. They worked for local driving especially, even when there was barely any charging infrastructure. Now they’re incredible vehicles with so much utility. They get better every day as the charging network grows and gets more reliable. People who buy a second hand first gen EV now are purchasing a ticket to motoring bliss compared to buying any other used car.
This can’t be right. Harley-Davidson, that company that makes huge, old fashioned, rumbly, V-Twin cruisers. They’re leading the charge into electric motorcycles. I never thought I would be saying that.
They are reinventing themselves at pace into a company fit for the future with plans for multiple electric bikes. A powerful naked bike, urban runabouts, even an ebike. I would like to know of anyone who predicted this.
The biggest aspect to this, is the fact that they’re blowing Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and the rest out of the water. This has got to be hugely embarrassing for all of the major manufacturers. Beaten to electric by the company everyone expected to be consigned to the history books because of the rise of electric, not embracing it.
Even BMW and Piaggio, who are embracing the change more than the others, haven’t done anything for a long time, and keep delaying their debut EV respectively.
When I was a kid, I was drawn to Harley-Davidson. Then over time I lost interest as I got more and more into technology and modern designs. But now it’s great to see the transformation they’re on the path towards, and I’m fully back onboard as a fan of the company. I just hope they can convince their customers to make the switch, while simultaneously attracting a whole new audience.
I really hope it pays off for them, because it would have been so easy for them to bury their heads in the sand and do nothing. But they came out swinging, fighting for a better future for the company.
A trend I’ve been noticing recently is that motoring journalists, or people who have been involved in the motor industry for a significant time, don’t really understand EVs fully even if they like them and want to encourage their take-up.
Nico Rosberg, Jason Fenske (of Engineering Explained), Tiff Needell, Countless other motoring journalists and many more besides. These people are EV curious or already big fans, but because they’ve been so entrenched in the motor industry, they don’t really get EVs and what makes them different. They compare charging with fuel stations. They talk about range in a way that suggests everyday use means taking long road trips all the time, and that EVs could only possibly work for city driving. Which to me is ridiculous. I would never want to drive in a city if I could avoid it.
In some cases, they even talk about well-to-wheel emissions and compare EVs running purely on coal to just the tailpipe emissions of gasoline cars. It’s totally unacceptable and just wrong.This misinformation spreads like wildfire. People won’t be aware of how easy it is to live with an EV and charge at home, or charge away from home on all different types of chargers to suit different situations. They won’t believe that EVs are cleaner or they’ll think that they can afford to wait until solid state batteries because lithium ion is supposedly so bad for the environment.
If people who like EVs are inadvertently misrepresenting them, then that’s the least of our problems. We’re facing another year or two of having to fight off a toxic cocktail of misinformation and flat-out lies.
On the plus side, this situation will naturally improve over time regardless. So we can look forward to the day where we no longer get presented with false information by people who’ve just read something anti-EV on Facebook or some tabloid not worth the paper it’s printed on.
No. It won’t be. It will certainly be big for EVs, but until we get to a point where 51% of the cars on show are EVs, then we won’t be there in my opinion.
However, in terms of public perception of EVs and the idea that they will take over entirely from fossil fuels, this may indeed be it. Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes will all unveil either prototypes or full production EVs. But I see this trend where people still don’t fully understand that EVs are here to take over. They think of them as an accompaniment to an ICE car. A second car for running errands around town. I’m hopeful that the I-Pace, e-Tron Quattro and eQC will change that. Tesla already should have, but many still have never heard of Tesla and seeing it from established luxury ICE car makers should make a difference. Perceptions won’t change overnight but I don’t think it will take that long.
Make no mistake, Geneva will be huge for EVs, but most likely 90% of the cars shown there will not be electric. Which for me will be deeply frustrating and depressing. It may take until 2020 before we get to that magical 51%. It may happen sooner, and I really hope I’m wrong, but I think 2020 is a reasonable assumption.