By on October 23, 2019

Since even before its debut, the Honda E has been showered with the kind of praise the American media usually reserves for controversial topics that split the nation, despite the model not being sold here. That’s likely fine. While its visual charms are undeniable, its small stature and electric powertrain probably wouldn’t do it any favors on the U.S. market. We could see it having an impressive first year before settling into a prolonged sales slump (think Fiat 500).

There are certainly alternative scenarios, but few involve Honda E supplanting the Civic. Being adorable will only take you so far. However, it seems Honda was originally willing to take a whack at it. The model’s product leader, Kohei Hitomi, said the little electric was always meant for America. 

“I really wanted to have that one as well in the U.S.,” Kohei told Jalopnik at the Tokyo Motor Show, adding that the manufacturer originally intended to have the car sold in America.

“The U.S. was included in the beginning,” he said. “I personally wanted to see it.”

The decision to take North America out of the running happened roughly three years ago, with Kohei suggesting the company was fearful that the E would not encounter sufficient demand to make exporting it viable. We’re inclined to agree, reiterating that the vehicle likely would have seen strong initial demand in coastal regions and metropolitan hubs, but little interest in America’s center mass.

However, Kohei acknowledged that the vehicle’s reception in the U.S. has been overwhelmingly positive. “I somehow expect that what we discussed three years ago may be recovered,” he teased.

While the positive press the Honda E has received here in the West is pretty overwhelming (try and find a truly negative article), that doesn’t guarantee the manufacturer is taking a second look at our market. Prepping the model for North America would undoubtedly require modifications, with the potential for some to be quite costly. Honda has already made that decision, disappointing us by making what was likely the right call.

[Image: Honda]

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9 Comments on “Project Lead for Honda E Says Model Originally Intended for America...”

  • avatar

    You’d think “coastal regions and metropolitan hubs” would be enough by themselves, given that something like one-third of America’s population lives in them.

    And speaking as one of those people, I think there’s a real chance that if we had been able to cross-shop the Honda E against our Bolt, it would have won. It’s as cool as the Bolt is proudly dorky.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. Success in urban areas is more than enough to make a viable case for it. It doesn’t even need to be stocked at dealers elsewhere (special order only).

      The fact that no one has even bothered attempting a “cool” affordable EV here (the Leaf and Bolt are the opposite of cool and the Model 3 is boring for the non-Teslarati and it’s quality is questionable) is absolute nonsense. There’s a massive hole for something with actual style inside and out and a colour palette and customization options.

  • avatar

    IIRC, any interest evaporates when price and range are discussed. This is more of a stylish and expensive Leaf than a cool Bolt or a high quality Model 3.

    • 0 avatar

      The range is 140 miles – which is, just barely, enough for us. Price is indeed a question. The Euro price converts to $32k before any incentives, but US prices are often lower than Euro prices for the same car. Compare the Bolt with 238 miles of range, and prices that are $38k to $44k list and $32k to $35k street. The Bolt is also usefully bigger, while still being plenty small for cities. But the E is RWD and looks so good.

  • avatar

    “if we had been able to cross-shop the Honda E against our Bolt, it would have won. It’s as cool as the Bolt is proudly dorky.”

    What if the Ariya had been in the mix? My only potential issue with the Ariya is if it comes to the US with Chademo instead of CCS. CCS is going to win out and I don’t want to be hunting for a chademo station.

    • 0 avatar

      With a 300-mile range and Tesla-like power, I expect it’s going to be expensive enough that it would have priced itself out of contention. That said, it’s a really nice-looking concept.

  • avatar

    I would have been the perfect candidate for this car. I’m single, like small cars, like hatchbacks, love old Hondas so there is the whiff of nostalgia, have enough disposable income to finally splurge on something, and live in a city. HOWEVER, my place of residence doesn’t have on-site charging, and probably won’t in the near future, therefore I need an internal combustion engine or a hybrid.

  • avatar

    Honda must have a bipolar styling dept.
    This little rig really looks nice, and their SUVs are attractively conservative.
    But that Civic….man it’s garish.

    If fuel prices were high again (I just filled my Caddy with Shell Top Tier for 2.19/gal) this rig with a small gas motor would be a winner. A Mini with Honda pricing and reliability.

  • avatar

    I’d be willing to redirect my CTR money that the Honda dealers don’t want into this thing instead.

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