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Big news from Thailand, where Honda has announced the start of production of the Honda e:N1 EV. The ‘electric HR-V’ gets a dedicated factory line at Honda’s plant in Rojana Industrial Park, Prachinburi province, and uses local parts. With this, Honda can claim to be the first Japanese carmaker to produce a full EV in Thailand. Details on the market launch will be announced in Q1 2024.

The e:N1 is basically the e:Ny1 with a slightly different name. Essentially an HR-V with no engine, it was previewed by the e:Ny1 Prototype from March 2022, which is similar to the China market e:NS1 and e:NP1 twins. The e:Ny1 made its European debut earlier this year.

It looks like an HR-V, but Honda says that the e:Ny1 sits on the newly-developed e:N Architecture F, a front-motor-driven platform with three fundamental attributes – a dedicated high rigidity body structure, a low centre of gravity, and carefully managed under-floor aerodynamics to ensure a “fun and confidence-inspiring drive”. Also mentioned was “trademark Honda dynamics”, so you get a sense of what they’re trying to do here.

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The lightweight three-in-one integrated power drive unit, electric motor and gearbox produces 201 hp (150 kW) and 310 Nm of torque in the Euro-spec e:Ny1, juiced by a 68.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Claimed range is 412 km in the WLTP cycle – significantly higher than the Honda e – and Honda says that DC fast-charging can get you from 10 to 80% SOC in 45 minutes.

Honda says that the new chassis developed specifically for EVs provides improved torsional rigidity, and key to this is high-tensile steel, which is used across 47% of the e:Ny1’s body (by weight, not area). “Alongside the new platform and powertrain, these combine to offer the dynamic performance, exceptional comfort and refinement drivers will expect from Honda’s latest EV,” the company adds.

Typical EV cues such as a closed-off nose and charging flap aside, do you notice anything different? It’s not so clear in these studio shots, but white ‘H’ badges across the exterior and on the steering wheel is a new electric identity for Honda, just like red for Type R and blue for hybrids. Also, there’s a new ‘Honda’ typeface logo for the rear.

Honda e:N1 EV production starts in Thailand – ‘electric HR-V’ is 1st CKD Japanese BEV there, on sale Q1 2024

Honda is a master of packaging, and this skill should also be apparent in EVs. The company says that clever packaging of the electric drivetrain components ensure the e:Ny1 offers “remarkable interior space and comfort”. The HR-V’s familiar dashboard gets a large 15.1-inch portrait touchscreen which includes what looks like a permanent section for AC controls. Ahead of the driver, the meter panel is a digital screen without a binnacle – browse the gallery below.

Do you think that the e:N1 EV would do well in Malaysia? To locally assemble a product, Honda Malaysia, like any other OEM with a plant here, would need to commit to a certain figure, and the numbers would have to justify the investment. Malaysia is of course a smaller car market than Thailand and Indonesia.

At yesterday’s new CR-V launch, Honda Malaysia MD and CEO Hironobu Yoshimura said that the company will focus on hybrids for now. “In Malaysia, at this moment we’re focusing on hybrid as a more practical solution first. At a certain time, we’ll come back to full electric,” he said. Full story here.

GALLERY: 2023 Honda e:Ny1, European spec

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