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Honda Previews Next Generation EVs with “Zero Series” Concepts

By
Laurance Yap
and
4
min
Jan 2024
Honda is a hybrid and electrified drivetrain pioneer, but has been slow to the full-electric bandwagon. It recently previewed its next-generation EV platform featuring innovative battery technology and a clever, super-spacious package.
Honda 0 Series Saloon Concept Model front view driving
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Honda Steps Into a Fully Electric Future

Honda is one of the original innovators in electrified powertrain technology. The Honda Insight was the first hybrid vehicle on sale in the U.S., even beating the Toyota Prius to market by a couple of months; it was also one of the first carmakers to sell hydrogen fuel-cell versions of the CR-V SUV and Clarity hatchback in California. Today, a significant portion of Honda’s sales in the U.S. are hybrid-powered – but it doesn’t yet have a fully-electric vehicle on sale yet.

The Prologue EV SUV lands in the first quarter of 2024, but while it has impressive specifications and is an appealing package inside and out, in some ways it is a stop-gap. The Prologue shares its basic EV architecture with General Motors, using the Ultium platform from the Chevrolet Blazer EV; it’s a really good product, and well-priced, but unlike previous Hondas, isn’t massively innovative.

Honda 0 Series Saloon Concept Model Back view

Honda’s All-New Electric Platform

That’s set to change in 2026, when the first Honda-designed, Honda-produced vehicles hit the road. And judging by the two concept cars the company showed recently at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Honda’s own EVs are set to radically re-write the electric car rulebook. Honda calls them 0 Series – the previews of new models soon to arrive in showrooms.

Two 0 Series vehicles were shown at CES – the Saloon (“saloon” is the word many Europeans use for “sedan”) and the Space Hub. While both models are concept cars, Honda says they show off Honda’s design and engineering approach for the production vehicles due in a couple of years. Indeed, Honda says the Saloon is closely related in design and proportions to the electric Honda sedan we’ll see on North American roads in 2026.

Honda 0 Series Saloon model exterior profile view

Thin, Light, and Wise Electric Cars

Unlike most electric cars we are familiar with, which tend to be tall and somewhat bulky thanks to their large batteries sitting under the car’s floor, the proportions of the Honda 0 Series Saloon are low and lean. Indeed, Honda says the 0 Series Saloon’s design is a reaction to the EVs currently on sale today. Instead of being “thick, heavy, but smart,” 0 Series vehicles will be “thin, light, and wise,” minimizing the space and materials consumed by the machine, freeing up space and light for driver and passengers.

The 0 Series Saloon sits on a dedicated “thin” EV platform that creates an exceptionally low floor for improved aerodynamics. Inside, the cabin is exceptionally roomy, and feels even more so thanks to the large glass windows and roofs. Sustainable materials are used throughout the interior, and the instrument panel has a simpler, intuitive interface.

Impressive Performance and Charging Speed

New motor and battery technology is key to the 0 Series vehicles’ platform. Based on Honda’s decades of experience with hybrids and other electrified drivetrains, they will feature electronic “e-axles” with compact packages, excellent power, and impressive efficiency – along with light weight. Honda also says it’s at work on proprietary high-density batteries that offer ample range, while having the smallest possible package. These batteries are also said to offer amazing charging performance, with Level 3 fast charging from 15 to 80 percent shortened to approximately 10 minutes, according to Honda. Battery degradation will also be minimized, and Honda says the 0 Series models will lose less than 10 percent of their usable capacity after 10 years of use.

Honda promises that the Saloon will be sporty and fun to drive, thanks to its excellent visibility, low-set driving position, and the responsiveness of its electric motors. Like the new Tesla Cybertruck, it will use steer-by-wire technology, meaning the steering wheel is not physically connected to the front wheels. This should allow software to adjust how the 0 Series Saloon responds at different road speeds. Honda says the car’s other controls will also leverage the company’s decades of expertise in robotics and advanced control systems, providing a whole new level of safety. Honda’s latest generation Sensing Elite suite of driver assists will be standard equipment.

Honda 0 Series Space Hub interior view

Honda: Next-Generation Driver Assists with AI

Honda says its next-generation driver assistance systems will also feature artificial intelligence and driver monitoring sensors act in a more “human-like” fashion in terms of how they assess risk and react to what is going on around the vehicle. Ultimately, the features will allow an expanded range of situations where the vehicle can operate hands-off. AI and machine learning will also learn the driver’s preferences and behaviors, allowing the Honda 0 Series cars to make predictions and offer suggestions that improve the driving and ownership experience.

Fewer details were offered by Honda about the Space Hub, which has a huge cabin and excellent visibility along with a very flexible interior space that can accommodate passengers and cargo in various configurations. The Space Hub is further away from being on sale, but will share its battery technology, lightweight platform, and high-tech features with the Series 0 Saloon.

“We have gone back to basics and formulated the Honda 0 Series with a design for the new era,” said Shinji Aoyama, Honda’s global executive vice president. “A bold and pure proportion that from the first glance is overwhelmingly different from other EVs to evoke a new perspective for people.”