Honda EV Concepts in Tokyo Will Channel 1980s Retro Cool

Jackson Wheeler
5 Min Read

  • Honda reveals the electric Sustaina-C concept ahead of the Japan Mobility Show, featuring an acrylic resin exterior.
  • The concept hatch resembles the angular Honda City hatchback of the 1980s, which was one of Honda’s most popular designs of the decade.
  • The Pocket scooter, revealed just days after the analogous Motocompacto, will also be exhibited at the show.

Just ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show, which now has been renamed (somewhat predictably) to the Japan Mobility Show 2023, Honda is giving the world a preview of some of the concepts we’ll see there next month. And a couple of them should look very familiar to those who know their Honda history, specifically 1980s history.

Dubbed the Sustaina-C concept, this hatch channels the first-generation Honda City complete with its own modernized version of the Motocompo named Pocket. Both are electric and both are made from recycled acrylic resin, the automaker says, meant “to enable people to transcend the constraints of limited resources,” as Honda puts it.

At least the exteriors are made from recycled acrylic resin—we’re sure there are some metal and glass parts thrown in as well.

2023 pocket concept

The Pocket concept is yet another take on the Motocompo of the 1980s, which is a valuable collector item today.


Curiously, the Pocket is not even the only Motocompo-style scooter Honda has shown this month, with the boxier and surprisingly affordable Motocompacto already having us checking our accounts to see how soon we’ll be able to get one.

It appears Honda has figured out that it has some beloved designs in its history that are worth revisiting, having already launched the retro-styled Honda e in Europe.

But that particular electric hatch, which has been in production for a couple of years now (and has of course been denied to Americans) was styled after the first-gen Civic, and went through a curious evolution from concept to production, with the end result somehow losing quite a lot in translation.

Honda’s CI-MEV two-seater, two-door electric hatch concept promises automated driving tech.

As such, we’d probably recommend avoiding getting too emotionally invested (as our therapist likes to say) in seeing the Sustaina-C and the Pocket scooter enter production.

For now, these are just a couple of funky concepts.

But the Sustaina-C won’t be the only electric Honda hatch concept we’ll see in Tokyo.

2023 honda ci mev concept

The CI-MEV concept will also be shown in Tokyo next month, previewing what looks like a production-ready city car.


Honda will bring the CI-MEV two-seater, two-door electric hatch to Tokyo as well, promising automated driving tech, among other things.

“Honda is striving to augment the living radius for people, especially for those who are in situations that tend to limit mobility, such as when there is no public transportation or when people experience difficulty in walking a long distance,” the automaker says.

This is perhaps what the Mitsubishi i-MiEV would have looked like had it received a second-gen model, while also losing a second row of seats. But it’s also clear that this vehicle size is still relevant in some markets and some communities more than others.

Whether it could be relevant in North America, on the other hand, is an open question.

Should Honda offer a small electric hatchback in the US, or has most of the market’s attention turned to crossovers? Let us know what you think.

Headshot of Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013. 

Share This Article
Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
Leave a comment