Honda has announced a new global series of electric vehicles called Honda Zero
"Honda has announced a new global series of electric vehicles called Honda Zero, presenting it as an alternative to the recent trend of "thick and heavy" electric vehicles seen on the road today. Honda states that it will introduce its first model, based on a sleek sedan-like concept called Saloon, starting from 2026 in North America.
In addition to the Saloon, Honda has also unveiled a more squared-off and van-like concept called Space-Hub. The concepts are meant to showcase Honda's lightweight approach to electric vehicle development, based on a "slim" architecture with a low bottom plane that emphasizes aerodynamics.
"Thin" and "light" are two of the three principles, the third being "smart," that Honda claims are driving the development of the Honda Zero EV series. The automaker has emphasized an engineering approach starting from scratch for the range, including a new H logo that will be exclusive to its next-generation electric vehicles.
Exactly how Honda plans to achieve this new lightweight design in its next-generation EVs is still unknown. Many of the electric vehicles entering the U.S. market this year are large and heavy SUVs and trucks, in line with the broader trend in car buying that has led some companies to stop producing sedans altogether. But Honda seems to suggest that there is another way, especially for smaller, slimmer, and lighter vehicles.
Of course, Honda is also a partner with Sony in designing and developing its electric car Afeela, which was first showcased at last year's CES. The Afeela will also arrive in the North American market by 2026, although there is no news of how it may or may not connect to the Honda Zero series.
The Saloon has a sloped tail shape with unique rectangular front and rear lights that resemble an old Black & Decker Dustbuster. The vehicle appears to run extremely close to the ground for an overall performance derived from Formula 1 racing. The interior is minimalist, with Tron-style lighting accents, a single central display, and wheels with pixelated covers that peer through the darkness.
The Space-Hub resembles a minivan with minimal overhangs and a rear light that looks similar to Rivian's electric delivery vans for Amazon. The Space-Hub will also include a huge panoramic roof that curves sideways to create an almost greenhouse-like effect. Inside, there are two benches facing each other, suggesting that an autonomous shuttle service could be a possible future use case. There is no rear window, meaning drivers will likely have to rely on cameras to see backward.
No specific details have been released, but Honda claims that these future EVs will be both partially and fully autonomous, depending on the configuration. A marketing video showed a retractable steering wheel that emerges from the dashboard when needed, suggesting that customers will be able to switch from human to autonomous driving depending on their mood.
Advanced driving assistance features will be based on the Honda Sensing platform, which debuted with the Honda Legend in Japan in 2021. Honda Sensing is a Level 2 system, meaning drivers still need to pay attention to the road and are legally responsible for the operation of the car. Hands-free driving on "highways and normal roads" will be available starting in the mid-2020s, even on more affordable models, the company says.
The Honda Zero series will be sporty, drawing performance-boosting design cues from the company's Formula 1 racing experience. Honda also aims for maximum battery efficiency through the use of electric axles, a system consisting of a motor, inverter, and gearbox that converts electrical energy into driving power.
Like many other automakers, Honda plans to introduce additional AI-powered features into its future vehicle lineup. These features will gather driver preference data to offer a more personalized experience and suggest routes based on location information.
So far, Honda's global offerings of electric vehicles have been limited. There's the Honda e city car, available only in Europe and Asia and set to be discontinued this year, and the Prologue SUV, which will soon arrive in North America. There's also the upcoming Afeela, a collaborative project with Sony, set to enter the market in the coming years. Honda's Zero series represents a bold step in the company's electric vehicle strategy, emphasizing lightweight design and innovation."