FRANKFURT -- Honda expects to sell about 10,000 units of the Honda e small electric car annually in Europe. That is double the amount it predicted two years ago when the first concept version of the car was shown.
Orders start now and deliveries will begin next summer. Honda says it has had 40,000 expressions of interest in the car.
The Honda e has retro-styling with round LED lights, uncluttered exterior surfaces and multiple dashboard screens. It was one of the most anticipated electric car launches at Frankfurt auto show after the Volkswagen ID3 and Porsche Taycan.
The car is key to Honda achieving EU CO2 targets next year and in 2021, therefore, the company may need to sell more than the predicted 10,000, said Dave Hodgetts, managing director of Honda UK.
"It slightly depends on the performance of our other models," Hodgetts told Automotive News Europe. "If we sell more CR-V petrol models than hybrids than we expected then we might have to sell more of the Honda e."
Hodgetts said Honda has committed to achieving the EU's fleet average for CO2 of 95 gram per kilometer instead of paying fines. He did not say how Honda would increase sales, but two routes could be to put more money behind marketing the car or lowering the price.
The Honda e, which is built in Yori, Japan, takes the company back into Europe's minicar segment for the first time since it dropped the Logo in 2001.
The price of the Honda e is more than double that of minicars with internal combustion engines, but Honda hopes that technology such as cameras in place of sideview mirrors and voice activated connectivity will lure wealthier customers away from premium brands. It describes the car as a halo model for the brand, despite its size.
The small car was a much better option for the company's first electric car in Europe than an SUV or compact, Honda e project engineer Kohei Hitomi said.
"We believe an electric vehicle makes more sense in an urban environment," he told Automotive News Europe.
He said the car's relatively small 37.5 kilowatt-hour battery was the right size for expected usage, as well being more environmentally friendly than a bigger battery, which consumes more resources and CO2 in its production.
The battery has a range of "up to" 220 km (137 miles) Honda said, quoting internal data rather than official EU testing data.
The entry car has a power output of 134 hp, or customers can pay more for the e Advance with 152 hp. Honda said the most powerful model will accelerate to 100 kph (62 mph) in 8 seconds.
Technology inside includes the Honda Personal Assistant, which is activated in the manner of Amazon's Alexa by saying 'OK, Honda'. It connects online to access "a range of online services." Honda said in a statement without being specific.
Users also get access to the My Honda+ smartphone app, which allows them to use their phone to check battery life, remotely activate the climate and unlock the doors.
The standard model is well equipped with technology such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot recognition, traffic-sign recognition, side-mirror cameras, remote keyless entry, heated front seats, and the dual 12.3-inch information screens.
As well as the extra power, e Advance adds a camera-fed screen in place of the windshield mounted rearview mirror, autonomous parking, heated steering wheel and heated windshield.
The four-door hatchback was revealed in production form at the Frankfurt auto show and will cost 33,850 euros ($37,000) in Germany for the standard model and 36,850 euros for the higher-powered e Advance. The entry-level model drops to 29,470 euros with eco bonuses, Honda said.
The Honda E will compete with the electric versions of the Volkswagen Up, as well as trhe Smart ForTwo and Smart ForFour minicars, although the Honda's premium price means it will draw customers from a range of vehicles.