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A drawing of the microcar EV that Honda will start testing (Photo: Honda)

Honda will start trials of a new micro-sized electric vehicle this autumn to see what kind of role such a vehicle can play in tomorrow's urban transportation environment.

The trials of Honda's "Micro Commuter Prototype Beta" will be conducted jointly with the Japanese city of Saitama. The city hopes the vehicle can be used especially to serve the short-distance transportation needs of senior citizens. Car sharing could be another application.

The Japanese carmaker also wants to work closely with another research project - E-Kizuna - which looks at the effectiveness of using a micro-sized EV as a household battery.

The Commuter Prototype Beta is a micro-sized short-distance EV whose battery, motor and control unit are located under the floor and in the rear space. That allows the builders to keep dimensions small. In the current test, the vehicle will seat two, but the rear seat can also be adapted to accommodate two children rather than one adult.