Honda unveils two new hybrid, EV concept cars

by Hiroko Nakata

Honda Motor Co. on Wednesday unveiled two new hybrid concept cars and an all-electric concept model to be shown later this month at the Tokyo Motor Show at Makuhari Messe exhibition hall in Chiba Prefecture.

Among the new concept cars are the four-seater CR-Z Concept and the six-seater Skydeck, sporty variants of the Insight, its first hybrid car.

Honda aims to expand its range of Insight-based models, focusing on gasoline-electric hybrids as the most cost-effective way to achieve a “low-carbon society.”

“This (CR-Z Concept) is not a family-type car. It is aimed at people who do not drive minivans, like empty nesters,” said CR-Z project leader Takashi Nagura.

The distinctive front and rear fenders give it a sporty style and sensuality, Nagura said.

Commercial versions of the CR-Z Concept will go on sale in February, Honda said.

The Skydeck features gull-wing doors that open upward. And while many hybrid vehicles have their main battery under the floor, the Skydeck’s narrow power cell sits between the driver and front passenger seats, which lowers its center of gravity, an essential for a sports car.

“The design is clean, but it’s dynamic,” said Shinya Uchiyama, a designer at Honda’s styling design development division.

The new electric vehicle boasts the EV-N power system, which includes a solar panel on the roof to charge the air conditioner and other equipment.

The EV-N comes with “a smart key,” a compact digital device that can tell the driver how much time is required to recharge the battery, how long the car has been parked in a parking lot, and whether the car has been tampered with.

Also on Wednesday, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. announced plans to introduce two new concept models at the Tokyo Motor Show.

One is a plug-in sport utility hybrid called the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV.

The SUV has a longer range than its all-electric counterpart, the MiEV, and a fuel-efficient engine that gets 50 km per liter of gasoline.

The carmaker’s other concept vehicle, the i-MiEV CARGO, is an electric cargo-carrier based on the i-MiEV launched in June.

The Tokyo Motor Show starts Oct. 23 and runs until Nov. 4.