Honda’s O Series EVs Take Us Back to the Future

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Honda’s recent launch of the 0 Series electric vehicles at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has generated significant buzz in the automotive world. With two concept cars, the Saloon, and the Space-Hub, looking to start production in 2026, Honda developed these vehicles under the theme of “augmenting people’s daily lives.” With a vision to look towards the future, per the 0 Series website, Honda had to “rethink everything we know about EVs”. To establish this clear distinction from their previous models and ethos, Honda created a new logo — the first time the brand has changed the ‘H mark’ significantly since 1981, with the latest ‘H mark’ first appearing on Series Zero electric models.

Having an appreciation for vehicles instilled in me at a young age by my father, I couldn’t help feeling a strong sense of deja vu when looking at the new logo and photos from CES. Where have I seen this before? Why does my mind automatically jump to my childhood watching Blade Runner, Tron, and Back to the Future? Visions of DeLoreans racing in my head …

Because I have seen this before.

Honda is attempting to marry cutting-edge electric vehicle technology with a nostalgic design philosophy, retrofuturism.

Retrofuturism is a movement in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced in an earlier era. If futurism is sometimes called a “science” bent on anticipating what will come, retrofuturism is remembering that anticipation. I’m still waiting on my flying car.

However, as the automotive industry is familiar with retrofuturism, the question arises: is Honda’s approach truly novel, or does it fall flat in pursuing innovation?

While Honda’s attempt to infuse the 0 Series with a sense of nostalgia is commendable (if it was indeed the strategy), it also raises questions about the originality of the approach. Numerous automakers have explored similar themes in the past, making it a somewhat predictable move in a landscape that often craves innovation.

Aesthetics vs. Practicality

The two concept cars, the Saloon and the Space-Hub showcase Honda’s commitment to marrying form and function. Saloon’s sleek and aerodynamic design and Space-Hub’s roomy rural-centric approach are aesthetically pleasing. Still, do these designs contribute meaningfully to the practicality and efficiency of electric vehicles, or are they merely a surface-level attempt to stand out in a crowded market?

A “New” Logo

Another blast from the past is the “new” logo. Honda states, “This new H mark expresses our corporate attitude of going beyond our origin and constantly pursuing new challenges and advancements.

This design expression, like two outstretched hands,
represents our commitment to augment the possibilities of mobility and face our users sincerely.” However, the rendition is eerily similar to Honda’s 1961-69 logo; one might argue that this new mark is a refinement rather than something entirely new. I say that there’s a certain irony in “going beyond our origin” by referencing a previously used logo unless that was an intended meta nod to their past.

In that case, Honda, I salute you.

Before image: Honda logo 1961-1969 Brand Fabrik, after image: Honda 0 Series 2023

The launch of Honda’s 0 Series electric vehicles presents an interesting blend of nostalgia and modernity. However, the inadvertent lean on retrofuturism raises questions about the originality of the approach, as this design philosophy is a familiar approach. While the Saloon and Space-Hub boast eye-catching aesthetics, the true measure of success for the 0 Series lies in its ability to deliver practicality, efficiency, and a genuinely innovative driving experience. Only time will tell whether Honda’s gamble on retrofuturism pays off or if it proves to be a stale attempt in a rapidly evolving electric vehicle market.

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