Honda’s 1 Person Electric Vehicle Looks Cool, But Who Will Buy It?

Electric one person vehicle
The Honda 3R-C is a concept car that will carry one person around a city on an electric system.

The 80th Geneva International Motor Show starts March 4th, and we’ve already gotten a sneak peek at one of Honda’s newest concept vehicles. The Honda 3R-C is a three wheeled one person electric concept car designed for light city travel. It looks pretty cool: a sleek form, two lead wheels, and a transparent canopy. That canopy slides down into a windshield when someone’s inside. The 3R-C is steered with handlebars and gives me the impression that it’s somewhere between a scooter and a golf cart, though it probably has more horsepower than either. There’s no doubt that the vehicle looks pretty slick, but I don’t think the 3R-C represents the automotive future. Like with many other Honda concepts, the real story isn’t whether it will sell, but what other projects it may inspire. Check out the pics below.

When we saw Honda’s answer to the Segway (the U3-X) you could tell that as innovative as the new personal scooter was, it wasn’t going to sell. Personal transports are an interesting concept, and they work in certain conditions, but for the average person getting around town they don’t offer enough advantages over walking or biking. The same holds true for the 3R-C. This thing doesn’t have many advantages over a scooter (even less for a motorcycle) and, while it looks much cooler, I doubt anyone would choose it over a SmartCar.

honda 3R-C man inside
The canopy of the 3R-C converst into a windshield to allow a rider inside.

The really important innovation here is that Honda is fielding a small vehicle with an all electric drive system that has the power to carry someone around a city in regular traffic. Let other people ask about the storage space in the front or the convertible canopy-windshield, I’m looking forward to the Geneva Motor Show so we can learn the efficiency of that drive system, the weight of that battery, and the ratio of carried load to maximum distance traveled.

honda 3R-c concept electric vehicle
Ok, 3R-C, I'll admit you have a nice butt, but you're not really practical.

It’s hard to predict the future of city transportation as every municipal area is different. Some areas need cars to become smaller and lighter, others need them to stay larger and more independent. I still wonder if it wouldn’t be cheaper in the long run to redesign cities to promote more walking and bike riding. In any case, it doesn’t matter if we’re traveling around on unicycles or jetpacks, the innovative systems that enable efficient single person vehicles will find new applications. So relax, 3R-C, nobody may want you now, but your offspring are going to be popular some day.

honda 3RC 1 person electric vehicle
I doubt you'll ever see this view on an actual city street, but one day the systems of the 3R-C could prove useful in other endeavors.

[image credits: Honda]

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