Honda Prelude Concept Just Rocked My World

Out of nowhere, Honda just blew my mind away with the Honda Prelude Concept bound for Japan Mobility Show 2023.

Honda Prelude Concept carries the “driving pleasure” into the electrification era according to Honda press release. What astonish me about the concept is that how production ready the concept looks. Just look at the details, the door cut lines looks like a functional door. The concept even has wipers!

Honda Prelude Concept

The Prelude Concept literally comes out of nowhere because when Honda revealed the concept for Honda e (which is still under Honda Urban EV concept), there’s also a Honda Sports EV concept displayed as well. The Sports EV concept however has that obvious concept car looks, but this… This is production ready, hey, did I tell you guys this concept has wipers?

Anywho, Honda will display the car on Japan Mobility Show 2023 this weekend until November.

Honda JAPAN MOBILITY SHOW 2023 | Booth Map | PRELUDE Concept | Honda Corporate Information Site (global.honda)

What made me finally considers electric car?

Fast keyword: Cost per kilometer.

Just like Newton’s third law, for every action there’s an equal reaction, in economics we say everything has a price. In economics, a price is not always something of value with a price tag but also something of value to trade. In physics, we trade fuel as energy source, turned into a mechanical action to move the person riding in a particular vehicle. In economics, we spare our hard earned money that we trade our own life time for a work.

Cost of living is something we gloss at as we get busy, and if we are willing to focus on the details of the cost, then we can miss a lot. Transportation cost is something that we have to calculate carefully as it becomes something that we have to do everyday to do our work. For those owning a vehicle, cost of ownership doesn’t just revolves around fuel cost, but also saving for maintenance for said vehicle and hidden costs such as accidental repairs.

Let’s not get too far ahead and let’s do a deep dive to operation cost of a car and compare it to an electric car.

Cost per kilometer (or mile if you live somewhere with imperial measurements) is the easiest metric to calculate your daily commute costs. The formula is simple, calculate your vehicle fuel consumption per kilometer divide it with the cost of fuel per liter. On my car (2015 Honda Brio), I get about 16 Kilometer per liter on my daily commute, and with the price of fuel is at Rp. 13,300 per liter, my cost per kilometer is Rp. 831.25.

Now for electric car, I use Wuling Air EV as comparison and here’s how to calculate its cost per kilometer. I take my home electricity cost which is Rp. 1,669.53 per kWh, multiply by the battery capacity (17.3 kWh) and then divided by the range which results in cost per kilometer of Rp. 192.55

Air EV Standard Range
Battery capacity17.3 kWh
Range150*
Electricity costRp. 1,669.53
Cost per kilometerRp. 192.55
So why I put asterisk on the table? Because it’s my own worst case estimate as Wuling only said the range of the Air EV Standard Range as 200 Kilometers. As of 2023, Indonesia does not have governmental body who oversees fuel consumption or energy consumption of electric cars, so any figures are manufacturer’s claim which not might be true or at least resulted from the manufacturer ideal testing methodology which often negate real world condition. I put 150 Kilometers adding aircon power draw and/or rough driving which definitely will demand more power from the battery.

In nutshell, even at worst condition at 150 kilometer range, the cost per kilometer of Wuling Air EV is insane. On my daily commute of 60 Kilometers, that means if I drive Wuling Air EV, I only need to pay Rp. 11,600 (rounded) while I have to pay Rp. 49,900 (rounded) on my 2015 Honda Brio. If a cost saving of almost 4x does not open your eyes, hey congrats, you have made it in life and money is not an issue, for me though, that fact alone truly made me consider of buying an electric car.

One thing to note, the cost per kilometer is still very much a theory as I still haven’t confirm it. It might be worse, but still, even at the very worst, 100 Kilometers of range, the cost per kilometer still comes back to Rp. 17,330, more than x2 improvement from the 2015 Honda Brio.

So this is one thing to consider of owning an electric car… And if your only transportation means revolves around using a 4 wheeler, then the cheapest electric car will do… So hello Wuling.

Status update and Honda news recap since I last posted last year

Well, long time no see folks. Well, status update time I guess. Life’s been okay, busy somewhere else, this blog after all is just a place for me to practice English and to talk (incoherently) about Honda. So here’s a recap of news about 4 wheels Honda especially in Indonesia since 2021.

2021 and 2022 saw Verstappen won F1 with Honda powered unit. To certain extent you can say that Honda made engine is built to last and has been proven and other Honda made engine can be considered as such, so it’s kind of something.

On performance side, Civic Type R gen XI launch is okay, they will retake the front wheel drive global track record again, but it is as expected from the king of front wheel drive car. The NSX gen II is dead, so that’s sad, so does the S660. So, no more dream car.

Honda BR-V gen II is launched, a compact SUV which is powered by traditional internal combustion engine, no hybrid option as of this writing. Honda advance driving aid system, SENSING now starting to be made as an option on entry level car for Honda so that’s good too, but it’s the common norm now.

Honda HR-V gen II is launched, basically a lengthened gen I with quality-of-life improvement in noise vibration and harshness, new 1.5L naturally aspirated engine with a bump on power and optional 1.5L turbo engine. Still a good entry level SUV and kind of posh too. I like the car.

Honda WR-V gen I finally unveiled, basically a two row BR-V with the same 1.5L naturally aspirated engine. Good on Honda for launching the car with a potent and proven engine. In the same class, Toyota/Daihatsu launched their Raize/Rocky with first generation turbo engine which is ground breaking, but turbo engine has issue with lower grade fuel which is still a thing in the country. Also, the 1.0L turbo engine is rated to perform at 1.5L naturally aspirated engine power, but technically, the power and torque figure of the Toyota/Daihatsu is still lower than Honda WR-V. Despite turbo advantages delivering torque at lower engine RPM, theoretically improving fuel efficiency, the complexity and extra care for turbo engine for me is unwarranted.

Going forward everybody seems going to offer hybrid options, which Honda still have yet to announce for any of their models in Indonesia. The Civic and City hybrid has been made available in Southeast Asia, but still no word for Indonesia. Toyota already announced that hybridization will come to the Avanza line in Indonesia, and I hope Honda delivers option for hybridization on BR-V or WR-V down the line.

And that’s it for 2022 recap. Have a great holiday and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it.

Honda Indonesia debuts compact SUV at GIIAS 2021

Honda is debuting a new compact entry level SUV on Indonesia flagship autoshow on 11th November 2021. This might be the ZR-V although my sources told me with high confidence this is the N5-X or the two row version of the BR-V.

The SUV craze has officially come to Indonesia as such, Honda best selling model, Brio, is entering its bearish period, selling a handful as potential buyers are swooned by Daihatsu/Toyota Raize/Rocky combo. Starting at Rp. 180 million/ US$12 thousand, the compact SUV twins cuts straight in the middle of Honda Brio model pricing (Brio starts at Rp. 150 million / US$ 10,5 thousand), while offering more premium amenities and larger interior space. Obviously Honda entry level hatchback has efficiency to brag, but at a time where people wants to be seen driving a larger car, the premise for the Brio is losing its appeal.

A lot of buzz surrounding the car because this will be Honda latest masterpiece after shaking up Honda Indonesia management and Honda R&D in the region. It would be logical to assume that this SUV will be a short version of second generation BR-V, Honda after all have to rely on economy of scope to survive in the market. So part sharing should be in the order just like Brio – Mobilio – BR-V before it. However from the looks of the teaser, this car brings about significant changes on the rear portion. It will have similar rear lighting cluster like the new HR-V and connected D pillar to create floating roof effect. The lighted up part on the lower part of the door seems like a body cladding to add some visual toughness.

If true, then Honda has done its homework well, trying to distinguish their platform share to good effect. No more longer version of a cheap car that plagued the Brio – Mobilio joke here.

Why It’s Called N7X and not Honda BR-V?

For a car that’s going to be launched in just 4 months in Indonesia, the N7X is quite an oddity. First, it carries the concept nomenclature, which according to Honda own history means something that is under design study, however the N7X looks production ready. Also, the name most likely a codename for something, as it breaks Honda own naming scheme in the region.

Obviously the media is pointing that this is the second generation BR-V, yet why not just call the N7X a preview for the second generation BR-V?

Well ladies and gents, because the BR-V, is a major and utter comercial failure…

Even without the SUV boom, the market in Indonesia is already into SUV. Like India, we share similar seasonal wet and dry season, and similar infrastructure shenanigans (bad roads, potholes, the many dirt path). So tall cars are always in demand, the Toyota/Daihatsu offerings always cater to these facts. The Avanza/Xenia and Rush/Terios is built to venture all types of road conditions, flood no flood.

The BR-V was Honda answer to the Toyota/Daihatsu Rush/Terios, offering superior efficiency, comfort and driveability. Yet, BR-V best selling year was when it was introduced in 2016, at 38.000+ units, and in 2019, Honda only sells 4.000+ units compared to Toyota/Daihatsu Rush/Terios combined at 80.000+ units.

So why, in a market that demands 7 seater tall SUV, that the BR-V spectacularly fails? The CR-V and HR-V fares much better, and becomes the segment leaders, trading blows with Toyota’s best effort.

Well, the BR-V simply fell victim to the rule of association, being associated with the cheaper barebone Brio.

The thing is, the Brio project put too much effort in cost saving and economy of scale, Honda forgot that the market considers car purchase as an emotional act rather than logical. First gen and “2nd gen” Brio, Mobilio, and BR-V shares the exact same dashboard, door trim, and some seats making the association that all three cars are based on the original model, the entry level family car, the Brio.

First impression matters, in marketing term, it’s what defines the expectation of the brand/product going forward. The original Brio is not a car to be based on if you want to create a good impression. The original Brio lacks everything to be called a decent car. Lack of sound proofing, lack of boot space, lack of second row seating space, you name it… How do I know this, I drive one daily.

So when people was asked about Mobilio and the BR-V, by proxy what they recall is not the individual car, but the whole family because even the exterior (hood, headlights, front doors, the A pillar, window kink) is similar. When I asked my friends about the Mobilio, the definitive answer is that they will say it’s a longer Brio. When I asked about the BR-V, the consensus will say it’s a longer taller Brio. One even commented, it’s in the name, BRio-V.

So when people looked at the BR-V, what they see is not a premium 7 seater SUV, but rather an elongated and jacked up cheap car… And they are correct. The BR-V isn’t just a colossal sales failure in Indonesia, it’s everywhere where it’s sold. The initial sellout drops like a rock in the next year.

The Brio platform is now in its second generation, which underpins the second generation Honda Amaze back in 2018. Not to be confused with the revised Honda Brio hatch that got majorly revised adding rear hatch door but still retains the old chassis code, DD1/2, while the Amaze had it’s chassis code updated to DF5/6 from DF1/2.

Launching the N7X first in the ASEAN region is a smart move, and expectedly, Honda will put premium on the car. Why, because the rule of association. With Honda putting the N7X on the market first, the subsequent cars based on the platform will now be referenced as the variant of N7X, a premium car, not a variant of a cheap entry level car.

Still though what name the N7X will carry, will it still be BR-V? And risking the tarnished image of the car’s legacy, or will it be something new but still in the xR-V family? Well what’s in a name… A lot apparently.

Still though, good job Honda, you have won your first battle with launching a new car that people talks about and look up to. Now onto the war.

N7X Concept Makes Honda Interesting Again

Honda just unveiled the N7X “concept” in Indonesia that might be a preview for second gen BR-V. The reveal was interesting is that Honda put a lot of effort to make the car looks more premium than even the HR-V. The only telltale that this is an entry/mainstream car is from the dashboard design that’s lifted directly from the Honda Amaze (Brio sedan) sold in India. Anyway, you guys can watch the video of the virtual unveiling.

N7X 3/4 front view
N7X 3/4 rear view

For a 7 seater, Honda move away, like waaaay waaaay from Honda Mobilio/BR-V kinked side windows which going to give the car a more cramped feeling interior wise but definitely a cleaner and more premium looking car externally.

Now let’s discuss about the N7X heritage, the Brio… What? No Brio resemblance? Well that’s because Honda killed the Brio name from the N7X donor, which is the Honda Amaze, which technically is the second generation Honda Brio Amaze. Like my (many) rants about the Brio family, Honda blew it spectacularly with the initial launch of the platform. Everything about the Brio family screams cheap, from cheap materials, lack of sound proofing, lack of amenities, and lack of dignity in its marketing campaign.

Honda Brio Amaze is the sedan version of the Brio hatchback sold in India, Nepal, Philippines and Thailand. In India the car is relatively successful with the massive size of the Indian market and its appetite for compact sedans, however initial good sales comes to a massive dip in its third year. Compared to the competition, the Brio Amaze feels cheap and lacking in content and styling and Honda took the first generation off in just 4 years and fast track the second generation of the car, now just called Amaze. Sales picks up doubling the previous generation model best selling year since it’s launches. The Amaze addresses the Brio Amaze shortcoming especially in the styling department with proportional looks and sorted interior.

Even though the Amaze was launched two years ago, Honda never took the platform to refresh the Brio line. In fact, Honda refreshed the old platform of the original Brio and added proper hatch and call it a day. Honda also kind of refresh the Mobilio which still ride on the same platform with revised nose and added some sound proofing…. So I wonder, with Honda penchant creed to platform share everything, where does the Amaze shared its platform with… And here we are.

Honda Amaze 2019

The most obvious visual cue taken from the Amaze on the N7X is where the hood meet the front fender with the same kink line, the same straight upper body molding and the A pillar. The most striking clue that the N7X is based off the amaze is from the exact same dashboard seen in the video.

N7X interior
Honda Amaze interior

All in all, I like what Honda is doing with the next generation of the Brio family. I fear that the Mobilio is obsolete with the N7X unless Honda wanted to release a decontented version of the car. Yet this is how you hype the market, you build brand cachet first, the rest will fall in place. Honda is with new management now and all I can say, it’s in good hands.

Honda teased new model for Indonesia

Launching in Indonesia in just 2 days, Honda teased two images of a mystery car.

There are three candidate of car reveal by Honda this year, Mobilio, BR-V and ZR-V. The Mobilio is entering its 7th year of production, a long cycle for Honda standard which sticks to 5-6 year model cycle. The same goes to BR-V which is in its 6th year of production. Honda ZR-V although only mentioned in passing as Honda registers the name last year, is strongly pointed by the media that it’s going to be Honda Brio based SUV. With Kia/Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota/Daihatsu already stole the lead selling small SUV, Honda is left alone without one.

It’s hinted by a conversation with party of interest is that this is a “family car”, and with family car in Indonesia is synonymous with 7 seater, this narrows it down to Mobilio or BR-V. However there’s troubling fact that the BR-V doesn’t sell anywhere close to Mobilio, yet the BR-V family name, the CR-V and HR-V carries a familiar symbol of class.

In my previous post, I suggest Honda to kill either Mobilio or BR-V and make do with one model. The image that the BR-V is only a dressed up Mobilio is deeply ingrained, even though it’s not. Honda did extensive rework for the BR-V steering assembly, sound proofing, wider track, and larger headroom on the third row. However, the market is already accustomed to the fact that cars with a “rugged” variation is just a dress up version of the original car, made popular by Nissan Grand Livina and its X-Gear variant, and now, the best selling car in the segment, Mitsubishi Xpander and its “rugged” variant, Xpander Cross.

Honda has realized the fact and in Japan, they launched “rugged” variant of the Fit, called Fit CrosStar, which is just a Fit with different bumper and taller ground clearance. I assume Honda will not repeat the Mobilio and BR-V fiasco again and merge the car into one and probably just add a rugged version which is just a taller version of the original… Introducing 2021 Honda MOBIRIVO.

Anyway, Honda needs a strong emotion stirring product and the teaser looks like it can deliver one. With new management, I believe Honda can put up a good fight and correct past mistake. Now Honda… Give us that delicious 1.0 turbo engine will you? Toyota and Daihatsu already did.

Been awhile… And another Honda car rant

Well, my last post is about 1 1/2 years ago… I’m still alive, it’s just things have been, hectic to say the least, with a global pandemic, starting a new business, and my health went haywire a bit. The thing is also, this blog is supposed to be all things 4 wheels Honda, but as of late, there’s no interesting product from Honda since 2015. The Honda E electric is, eh… The NSX got nowhere in term of excitement, and finally, the trio of entry level cars in APAC region is major snooze fest. The Brio, Mobilio, BR-V, supposed to usher in new era of Honda in APAC, one that is cater made, cars that would fulfill the demographics to the dot.

and it flops…

Honda Brio hatch and Mobilio got discontinued in India and the Brio sedan sales are minimal. Strong Mobilio sales in ASEAN region quickly diminished in the face of competition, ultimately, one that came from Mitsubishi. The first gen Honda Brio abysmal cargo is the laughing stock of the segment. The BR-V sales are lackluster, despite carrying the mantle of the successful xR-V family badge.

Honda did quickly address the Brio sedan situation in India, ushering new full model change in just 4 years. Honda addressed the Brio hatch situation with a new model that extends the cargo bay. Honda upped the content game with the Mobilio, addressing NVH. The results speaks for itself, Honda Brio sedan (now called Honda Amaze) sales picks up nicely in India, Honda Brio hatch is the best selling car in Indonesia, and Honda Mobilio, well, it still exists, selling okay-ish but never back to the top of the segment.

The thing about Honda is that they tend to think what’s best for the customer… STOP IT. The market is not logical, it never is. The market DOESN’T NEED a SENSIBLE CAR, the market WANTS a STATUS SYMBOL. I still remember the original Mobilio pitch with its round headlights and sedated fascia, that it’s a friendly car, a capable friend of the family, hoo boy. Honda Mobilio strong initial sellout was indicative of Honda reputation of being a premium brand for all its existence. Accord, Civic, CR-V, Stream, City, Jazz, are all great cars in its segment and one that earns respect from journalists, enthusiasts, and regulars. The Mobilio was launched to much fanfare that it’s the first affordable 7 seater from Honda since they discontinued the Honda Stream in the region. Then realization hits hard about the car. It’s solidly built but with accompanying strong hint of cheapness everywhere. No smart seating arrangement, with cheap materials used in the interior and the lack of sound proofing makes the Mobilio feels like a joke of a car.

Emotion drives sales Honda, make a car that stirs the emotion not the logic.

A note to Honda

Like anything in this world, nothing is perfect, so does Honda and its products. In this entry series called ‘a note to Honda’, I’m casting away my fanboyness to anything Honda for constructive critiques.

Honda never shied away from using an existing platform for a wide variety of cars, some are amazing because of it, but some has weird peculiarity because it uses the same platform.

Honda built its car using global platforms, a mainstay term today but a unique concept back in the day. There was a time one platform called Honda small global platform underlines 5 model back in early 00’s with the Fit, Fit Aria (City), Airwave, Mobilio, and Mobilio Spike.

For more than a decade, Honda never use platform sharing as aggressive as back in the early 00’s with the Fit line. Now they are back with full force with the Brio line. Spanning 4 model line, it might not be as frugal as the Fit platform sharing, but it sets out what’s good and bad about Honda. I’ve wrote about the Brio platform in the past, but more of overview of the platform. Here I will be much more critical of the platform and many about Honda in general.

So next, let’s talk about the Brio.

 

JDM Honda Fit 2013 Launched, Amazing Improvements A Plenty!

It’s very hard not to feel excited about the new third generation Fit.

Short check list for now:

  • FIT RS uses a new improved i-VTEC engine producing 132ps (for comparison, 2004 Honda Stream 7 seater wagon 1.7L engine only produce 128ps).
  • The new hybrid FIT gets 36.4 Km/L on Japanese new more demanding JC08 fuel economy test.
  • Power of the hybrid improved drastically.
  • Interior room is bigger than the second generation Fit.

Source:

http://www.honda.co.jp/Fit/