Gorgeous electric subcompact was Honda’s first EV, but it was also expensive, cramped and had a poor range
Come January 2024, more than a few of us will be trying to establish some new personal ground rules and choosing to junk a few things that aren’t working for us any longer. It might be smoking, drinking, that dead-beat girlfriend, or, in Honda’s case, making the little e. The automaker has confirmed that production of the tiny EV will end next month.
The Honda e looked sensational as the Urban EV Concept in 2017, looked almost as good when it turned up again in 2019, this time in production-ready form with back doors, and still looks fantastic today. The clean body lines, black panels that echoed each other on the front and back, camera-based door mirrors and huge digital dashboard haven’t lost their wow factor.
But even style leaders need more than auto show sizzle to shift cars. The e failed to live up to Honda’s sales expectations because there wasn’t enough practical substance beneath the style. It was expensive, offered precious little trunk space and had a disappointing electric range.
Individually, those faults might not have been a problem. People will pay a premium for a car if it looks cool, not everyone needs a giant trunk or the ability to seat five, and if you’re just after a town runaround and can charge at home every night, a puny 138-mile (220 km) range isn’t a big deal. But collectively they just proved too much for buyers.
Right now Honda UK’s website still lists the 152 hp (154 PS) e Advance as available for £37,395, but its (replaced-soon) Mini Electric rival is only £32,550, the Renault Zoe (which has also been axed today), £31,195, and Fiat’s entry-level 500 EV starts at £28,195. And now there’s the Volvo EX30: almost as stylish as the Honda e, but bigger, and offering a 5.7-second zero to 62 mph (100 kmh) time and a 214-mile (344 km) range even in its most basic £33,795 form.
Yes, the e’s window has definitely closed, but let’s hope the model’s disappointing sales haven’t put Honda off from trying something similar in future. Its place in the lineup will be kind of filled by the e:Ny1 SUV, a bigger, more practical EV, but one that’s missing a chunk of the e’s charm.