When Honda first unveiled its Micro Commuter Concept EV a couple of years ago, there were likely many people who doubted that the futuristic little car would ever be seen anywhere other than auto shows. Last week, however, Honda announced that it will begin field-testing an unspecified number of the MCC's successors later this year.
Testing will be conducted in collaboration with the Japanese city of Saitama. The city council had previously submitted a proposal to Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, which was “publicly seeking projects to promote the introduction of micro-sized mobility.” That proposal was accepted by the group on June 28th, with the field testing set to commence in Saitama this fall (Northern Hemisphere).
Now known as the Micro Commuter Prototype β, the current version of the car isn’t quite as radically styled as the original concept vehicle. It still retains most of the key features, however. Among these is the Variable Design Platform, which maximizes interior space by locating the battery, motor and control unit under the floor and in the rear of the car. This arrangement also allows for various vehicle bodies to be swapped onto a single base platform. The new prototype also incorporates the original adaptable seating system, which can accommodate either two adults or (by changing out the back seat) one adult driver and two children.
Not much is available in the way of specs, although it is known that the Prototype β weighs less than 400 kg (882 lb), measures 100 inches long by 49 inches wide (254 x 124.5 cm), and its motor produces 15 kW of power. It has a top speed of 50 mph (80.5 km/h), and a range of 60 miles (96.5 km) per charge.
Among other things, the field tests will be looking at how micro EVs could be used for short-distance daily transportation of senior citizens, car-sharing programs, and families with children, along with the ways in which the local infrastructure could facilitate these uses. Additionally, the tests will include a demonstration of the Honda Smart Home System, in which an electric vehicle’s battery is used to power the home when the vehicle is parked.