Honda aren’t the first to reveal vehicles with 3D-printed panels, details and more. Hoever, it’s certainly one of the biggest, so it’s efforts warranted a closer look. Fresh off the heels of the Paris Auto Show, Honda showed off its Variable Design platform for micro EVs: petite cars where space — and weight — is at a premium. The automaker wants to offer a vehicle with a customizable layout where drivers can choose what they need. That could be lowered entry points at the doors for senior drivers, a hatchback trunk for delivery vehicles, or space for a family of three. (Somehow!) Take a closer look:
I was a bit cautious of the idea of an entire vehicle composed of 3D-printed panels, but Honda’s spokesperson outlined how it took design and engineering from its motorcycle division, resulting in a light but safe pipe-based skeleton under the panelling. This is apparently what gives the “micro commuter model” structural integrity. The company had some assistance from design firm Kabuku, which added a cute bird design to both the hatchback trunk, as well as accents on the door and seat.
The majority of the car has that familiarly, rough 3D-printed surface to it, but despite being the early first step in Honda’s efforts to offer a heavily customizable electric vehicle, today’s prototype could very much move. A handful of journalists and businessmen got to sit inside and drive it very briefly around a faux Japanese village corner. 3D-printing entire car bodies could lead to reduced design times and cheaper costs. But that’s if it becomes a bigger thing. For now, it’s a hopeful platform that’s still in development.