Making its debut at the 2009 LA Auto Show, the Honda Personal-Neo Urban Transport (P-NUT) is back again at the Detroit Auto Show. Recognized by this year's Michelin Challenge Design as one of the most promising cars for a sustainable urban future, it is being showcased alongside the Renault Zoe ZE Concept and the Tata eMO electric mini car. The sleek, angled car's compact size and small ecological footprint make it ideal for urban settings. Currently only a design and study model developed by Honda's R&D branch, the car could see itself being manufactured as more people turn to an urban lifestyle and try to reduce their carbon footprint.
The car’s interior layout marks a distinct turn from traditional models. Featuring a center driving position flanked by two rear seats, it can seat three people. The design allows for ample legroom, close to that of a mid-sized sedan, and the rear seats fold up to offer increased storage space. The interior feels very open and the large windshield allows for plenty of visibility.
A rear-wheel drive model, the car’s modular rear-engine bay houses the source of power. It has the potential to host a variety of technologies including a conventional small displacement internal-combustion engine, a hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain, or a battery-electric powertrain. Its aerodynamic, exterior shape was a result of the interior layout along with the rear powertrain design. Dave Marek, director of advanced design for Honda R&D Americas, Inc explains, “The objective of the exterior and interior designers was to explore the potential for a new type of small-segment-category vehicle that overcomes many of the objections for existing micro-car designs. While the Honda P-NUT concept introduces function-oriented concepts, it also shows that small cars don’t have to compromise on style or amenities.”
Before the car is ready to enter the market, several adjustments will have to be made, but overall, it hold promising potential for ecologically conscious urbanites.