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Concept Car of the Week: Honda Unibox (2001)

Fri, 27 Sep 2013

The Tokyo motor show is famous for unusual concepts and the 2001 edition didn't disappoint, featuring some of the weirdest yet. Nissan unveiled the Nails, Toyota its Pod and Isuzu the Zen, but Honda had arguably the most intelligent concept there – the Unibox.

With its square shape, truss aluminum frame, wooden floor and flat, glazed walls the Unibox sits on the fence between automobile and architecture.

You can strip the Unibox down to its skeleton, replace the polycarbonate panels with aluminum or plastic ones, paint or decorate the panels however you like and combine them to create a truly unique look.

The six wheels of the Unibox are made of lightweight aluminum. The four at the back are a little smaller but feature built-in shock absorbers for excellent ride and space economy.

Open a door and within the tubular frame of the panels Honda managed to squeeze two electric fold-up motorbikes. In the side panel storage, you can also find an electric shopping cart equipped with a GPS to make sure you don't get lost in the mall.

The interior presents itself almost like a living room. The flat, wooden floor allows the seats to be rearranged as needed, while it's packed with gadgets. You won't find a boring steering wheel in there – instead a joystick controls everything: steering, accelerating, braking and turn indicators.

In place of a rear view mirror, a series of LCD screens stretch the full width of the car to show a panoramic degree rear view thanks to cameras placed on the rear panel's top corners. It also features traffic radars, cameras, a head-up display, GPS, phone, navigation-linked headlamp and, last but not least, an external pedestrian airbag.

Credit has to be given to Honda for having enough confidence to create such a radical concept to explore the future of transportation – one that still appears decades away today.

First seen Tokyo motor show 2001
Length 3,420 mm
Width 1,740 mm
Height 1,890 mm
Engine 4-cylinder engine with IMA (Integrated Motor Assist) system

Your author, Flavien Dachet, is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if isn't already in your bookmarks, certainly should be.

By Flavien Dachet