Honda shows off custom, 3D-printed bodies for its tiny electric car
Honda's taking car customization to the next level at this year's CEATEC in Japan.
Tim StevensFormer editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
The culture of car customization -- body kits and big wings and the like -- is perhaps not as prevalent as it was just a few years ago. But that's not stopping Honda from showing off what could be the most extreme example of automotive customization that we've seen yet, all with a little help from a 3D printer.
Well, a lot of help. At this year's CEATEC, Japan's largest consumer electronics show, Honda is showing off an example of its so-called Micro Commuter electric car with a body that's been constructed using additive manufacturing. Well, most of it, anyway. The majority of the visual panels on the car came out of a Stratsys printer, a process that took a solid month of printing 24/7.
That was after two months of design to create the custom look you see here, crafted for a the Toshimaya cookie company. Toshimaya is iconic for its bird-shaped butter cookies, and so the designers of the car took a cue from Portlandia and put a bird on it. An awful, awful lot of birds integrated to create detailed motifs that would be difficult to produce out of anything but a 3D printer.
The car also features a number of other cookie-friendly designs, like slide-out trays in the rear and tie-down spots to keep your boxes of delights from sliding around. But, this is just one example of many that Honda is showing as conceptual ways to take advantage of the flexible platform offered by the Micro Commuter. Another, for a roasting company, has a removable coffee cart at the rear. One for a fish delivery company is shaped to actually look like a fish.
The Micro Commuter itself has a maximum range of about 80 kilometers, or about 50 miles. The electricity providing that range comes from three separate battery packs. The largest is built into the floor of the car, but about 10 miles of range is provided by a pair of packs that slot in next to the driver's seat, which is the only seat. Carry those removable packs inside for a quick charge and that might just give you enough range to get home.
Honda is saying this cookie car will start making deliveries this spring, with the potential for other customized models coming after that. No word on whether you or I will ever be able to submit our own custom shapes for production, but maybe some day we'll finally be able to print our own.