Honda announced two radical concept cars at this year’s CES 2024, which the Japanese marque says is the result of "going back to the starting point as an automaker" and "creating completely new EVs from zero".
Comprising the sleek, sweeping design of the Saloon concept and the altogether more practical (yet equally striking) Space-Hub, the pair of EVs will run on an all-new architecture that Honda believes bucks the trend of modern electric cars being "thick and heavy".
Instead, Honda says its upcoming electric offerings will be "thin, light and wise", which is a reference to the low roof height design of both concepts and the fact they are destined to feature lighter, more compact battery technology with fast charging capabilities.
Wise is merely another way of saying smart, as the Japanese marque spoke of its drive to not only rid the world of emissions, but also reduce accidents and road fatalities to zero. To do this, it is working on the next generation of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), or high levels of 'hands-off' autonomous driving, in other words.
Although they both look like show cars, Honda is adamant the exterior styling of the Sedan will remain largely unchanged, losing only some of the whackiest features (like the gull-wing doors) when it comes to putting it into production.
Honda has a solid track record of sticking to its word, as its revolutionary but now defunct Honda e remained very true to the production car upon which it was based.
The company says we can expect to see the Honda 0 Series, complete with redesigned Honda logo, arrive in North America in 2026, with plans to roll it out to Japan, Asia, Europe and further markets soon after.
Will the 0 Series pack Sony tech?
Sony’s press conference on the eve of CES 2024 officially opening was a bit of a damp squib for automotive fans, despite Izumi Kawanishi, president of Sony Honda Mobility, driving a mildly updated version of its Afeela concept car onto stage using just a PS5 controller.
However, the Sony Honda Mobility joint venture is progressing, with the pair revealing that the updated – but still awkwardly named – Afeela car (this is the third time we’ve seen it at CES) now features Epic Games' Unreal Engine 5.3, which is the driving force behind the advanced visuals seen on the next-gen infotainment system.
To demonstrate this, we saw 3D graphics fill the immense, full-width display, while the navigation system reproduced the landscape outside the car in beautifully rendered simulated form.
This technology also feeds into the high levels of autonomous driving that Afeela is capable of, with the real-time simulation allowing the vehicle to effectively create a 'digital twin' and be more acutely aware of its surroundings.
Sony was keen to point out that it plans to bring its vast entertainment universe inside the car, whether that’s gaming or movies, while augmented reality racing sims could be a thing of the future if the short Gran Turismo-based sting, where Afeela was seen racing virtual cars, is anything to go by.
Although there was no mention of Honda’s new 0 Series at the Sony press conference, we can only imagine that the partnership will eventually spill over into Honda's upcoming production vehicles, especially given the fact that Honda is effectively starting from a blank slate with all aspects, including infotainment.
We’re covering all of the latest CES news from the show as it happens. Stick with us for the big stories on everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops, smart home gadgets, and the latest in AI.
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Leon has been navigating a world where automotive and tech collide for almost 20 years, reporting on everything from in-car entertainment to robotised manufacturing plants. Currently, EVs are the focus of his attentions, but give it a few years and it will be electric vertical take-off and landing craft. Outside of work hours, he can be found tinkering with distinctly analogue motorcycles, because electric motors are no replacement for an old Honda inline four.