Honda Green-Lights Production of Urban EV Concept, But US Sale Unlikely: Report

Remember Honda's tiny, old-school electric concept car from 2017? The latest word is that it goes on sale next year...just probably not here.

The 2017 Honda Urban, a subcompact electric concept car, is reportedly headed for production, but whether Honda will sell the model in the United States is unclear.

Honda first revealed the Urban Concept at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, where the car’s suicide doors (“coach” doors), twin bench seats accommodating four, and clean design garnered a positive reception from press and potential customers. The Japanese automaker alluded to a desire to bring the diminutive EV to production, and according to Automotive News Europe, that’s exactly what to expect Honda to do.

An updated design for the Urban will reportedly be shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and the finalized design is alleged to arrive at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Dimensionally, the latter is said to come in at approximately four inches (100 millimeters) shorter than the Honda Fit, and potentially drop the Urban name. No alternative moniker has been identified.

Sale of the model will reportedly commence in Europe in early 2020, where the Urban (as we’ll still call it) will be the first EV sold by Honda. Honda allegedly predicts sales of around 5,000 units per year in this market, though there’s no word as to whether the model will be found in Honda showrooms stateside as well. Americans’ demand for subcompacts and city cars such as this diminishes every year, so despite established demand for EVs, Honda may find bringing the production version of the Urban or its sporting sibling to the Americas tough to justify.

With its near-future arrival, the Urban may not be a beneficiary of Honda’s rapidly advancing battery or charging technologies. Research funded by Honda has shown fluoride-ion batteries to be more energy-dense, cheaper, and more sustainable than current lithium-ion batteries, and Honda has reportedly promised 15-minute charge times by 2022. With the production-ready Urban on the horizon, however, these technologies may have to wait until the second generation of Honda EVs for commercialization.