by Lem Bingley
Honda has developed a third iteration of its Micro Commuter concept, called MC-β (or MC-Beta for those who have trouble reading squiggly symbols). It really ought to be MC-γ given that gamma is the third letter in the Greek alphabet, although nobody but me seems to be counting.
As I’ve observed before, the first Micro Commuter resembled an orbital escape capsule, the second resembled a golf buggy, and the third seems to be closer than ever in concept to Renault’s Twizy, the only electric runabout of this stripe that you can actually buy.
MC-β is actually a fair bit bigger than a Twizy. At 250cm long, 128cm wide and 155cm tall, the upright new Honda is about 15cm longer and 10cm taller than the French equivalent, though it is also about 10cm narrower. That seems to be because the wheels don’t stick out as much. Photographs suggest the interior room – especially in the back – is a fair bit more spacious in the Japanese car. There’s a nice set of images of the MC-β at this Korean site, and a little more info from Honda in Japan, though you’ll need to translate it.
MC-β isn’t a production proposition just yet, though Honda is building a limited run for field trials in Japan, where Nissan has also been floating a rebadged Twizy as an urban transportation option between car and scooter.
Interestingly, the MC-β has been designed to comply with the same European rules into which Renault has slotted the Twizy, hence the same limitations on performance. Weight is limited to 400kg not including batteries, and power output to 15kW. As the Twizy has proven, those benchmarks don’t have to equal a fragile, slow or dull driving experience – indeed fewer vehicles offer as much visceral fun as the Twizy.
The MC-β’s range between recharges is quoted as “more than 80km” (50 miles), a distance that is notably less than the 100km (62 miles) claimed by the French.
Alas the weight limits do tend to curb the ability to include big things like proper doors – Renault sensibly spent its weight allocation ensuring the Twizy could offer decent crash protection, and no doubt Honda has done the same. At any rate, the MC-β doesn’t look as if it will be remotely weather-proof. If it ever makes it to the UK, warm clothes and clip-on side-screens would seem like a wise investment.
A Beta release for Honda’s Twizy rival
27 November 2013
by Lem Bingley