2019 Honda Tomo concept.
2019 Honda Tomo concept.

Honda unveils electric baby ute

URBAN tradies of the future might whistle and hum on the way to worksites in near-silent micro-utes powered by electricity.

That's the vision of Honda and design students at Turin's Istituto Europeo di Design, who have collaborated on a compact ute concept for the Geneva motor show in March.

The Honda Tomo concept features a tiny open tray at the rear.
The Honda Tomo concept features a tiny open tray at the rear.

A departure from hulking diesel-powered pick-ups such as the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger, the baby ute has more in common with a Suzuki Mighty Boy than a Mazda BT-50.

The ute is named Tomo - Japanese for friend - and the team behind the machine say it extols the virtues of friendship, environmental awareness and driving fun.

Practicality was less of a concern. The diminutive machine is significantly smaller than current commercial vehicles and you might struggle to pop much more than an Esky in the tray. Technical specs aren't available yet, but we estimate the machine will offer about 250 kilometres of range and less than 250kg of cargo capacity.

That means it's unlikely to be seen wearing a thick coat of red dust in outback mining operations.

Based on Honda’s Urban EV hatchback, the Tomo features electric power.
Based on Honda’s Urban EV hatchback, the Tomo features electric power.

The Tomo will go on display alongside a production-ready version of Honda's Urban EV Concept. A surprise hit at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, the Urban EV garnered such strong support that Honda is pushing forward with a five-door production version.

A strong response to the Honda Urban EV concept saw it pushed into production.
A strong response to the Honda Urban EV concept saw it pushed into production.

Though Honda already has the platform and powertrain in place for such a machine, a road-going twin based on the Tomo seems unlikely, although some manufacturers are shifting to electric power for urban work vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz and Ford have committed to battery-fuelled versions of the Sprinter Van and F-150 pick-up overseas.