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Honda's Micro Commuter (Photo: Honda)

Honda next year will start testing a new "Micro Commuter" prototype, an electric vehicle for the Japanese market that could transport one driver  and two children.

The Japanese carmaker, which first unveiled the concept at the Tokyo Motor show in 2011, said  so-called "demonstration testing" will look at how the vehicle performs in everyday short-distance transportation.

The car is built using Honda's Variable Design Platform, which positions the battery, engine and control unit under the floor of the car and in the rear space, leaving room for the main vehicle ddiving functions inside the cabin.

Drivers of the Micro Commuter will rely on a user-owned tablet device that displays functions such as meter display, navigation, audio and the picture emanating from a back-up camera.

Honda said the tablet can be recharged using solar cells on the car's roof. The carmaker is researching whether those solar cells could also provide energy to assist driving.

Honda CEO Takanobu Ito said in September that "micromini vehicles" are one of the options the company is considering in its drive to build new battery-powered electric vehicles. He said the company would "further advance" the concept of the micro commuter. "Honda is making progress in the development of new personal mobility products," Ito said. "Honda is planning to begin demonstration testing of such products in Japan in 2013."